Park Place Lodge
U18 Bucks

The Cranbrook U18 Bucks, with players from Creston, Fernie and Kimberley, capped off their season this week with an incredible performance in the Tier 2 BC Hockey Provincials that saw them advance to the finals and the gold medal game.

“When I look back at this team in September, we had no idea what an incredible season we had in store,” says Head Coach, Pete Stefano. “With 13 first year players and only two third year players, we were very young compared to most other teams. We knew our success would be built on tireless effort and true teamwork. That is what every player committed to and it was this work ethic and drive that helped us achieve success game after game, week after week.”

The Bucks went 25-13-4 through the season heading into the U18 Tier 2 Provincials in Langley. “Watching this team take the ice in Langley was electric. They have never played better and they dominated through the round robin and semi-finals, scoring 15 powerplay goals alone as they advanced to the championship game,” adds Stefano. “As a coach, you always try to instill in players that it is not the wins or losses they’ll remember, but the journey and memories they made along the way. That has never been more true than with this team. Not only did they win the silver medal, as a young team they defied the odds this season, and created an experience that every player, parent, and coach will forever remember.”

Their efforts did not go unnoticed by the tournament organizers either, and the U18 Bucks were also awarded the BC Hockey Tier 2 Fairplay Award, which is presented to the team who symoblizes the ideals of teamwork while demonstrating leadership on and off ice through sportsmanship, respect for officials, teammates, other players, and for all those around them.

In addition, the Bucks were presented with the banner for winning the West Kootenay League. “There is so much to celebrate with this team and I can’t think of a better way to cap off our season. I also want to thank the parents and families as their support, enthusiasm and dedication was also a big part of our collective success.”

In addition to Stefano, the Bucks were coached by Assistant Coaches Darin Conroy and Dustin Willoughby. While the experience at Provincials was an end to an unforgettable season for all of the players, it was perhaps an even more impactful ending for retiring players Sam Kennedy and Riley Stankewich, who capped off their minor years playing in the biggest game of their lives.

Back row (left to right): Calen Nelson, Lane Oler, Colton Johnson, Drayden Miller, and Jaxon Derosier
Middle Row(left to right): Assistant Coach Dustin Willoughby, Head Coach Pete Stefano, Austin Marasco, Linden Keiver, Sam Kennedy, Quinn Cooper, Isaiah Willoughby, Riley Stankewich, and Assistant Coach Darin Conroy.
Front Row(left to right): Seth Coward, Rylie Parker, Brayden Conroy, Cohen Langenbach, Aiden Stefano, Nick Jensen, and Carter Vanderloos

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