The Cranbrook Bucks are on the West Coast this weekend, where they were supposed to play three games in three days against Nanaimo, Alberni Valley, and Coquitlam.
However, the trip to the coast included a series of unfortunate events that lead to the eventual postponement of Cranbrook’s Friday night game in Nanaimo.
As is standard practice, the Bucks departed Western Financial Place in Cranbrook on Thursday morning, planning to be on the lower mainland later that evening.
They would then conclude the trip to Nanaimo Friday morning, where they would spend the next two days while completing the Vancouver Island portion of the road trip.
So where did it go wrong?
I woke up to a text message on Friday morning from a member of the Bucks’ family. Included in the message was “the team is stuck in Princeton. The road has been closed all night.”
As it turns out, Princeton is as far as the Bucks would make it on Thursday, before the team was forced into not one — but two hotels — as there wasn’t one with enough vacancy for Cranbrook’s entire travelling party.
Shortly after I received the initial update Friday morning, the same person added “the road just opened, trying to make the game now.”
Well, it’s going to be a long day, but they’ll make it — right?
“Now the bus is broken down in Hope. What a trip.”
It was around 1:30pm on the day of a 7:00pm game in Nanaimo, and an already eventful trip had taken another turn as the team’s bus became defective almost five hours away from its destination.
Again, it’s going to be a long day, but if they can get back on the move, there’s still time to make this work.
With time becoming a factor, the Bucks got back on the move. I received reports of the team being through Chilliwack, then Burnaby, and then heading for the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal.
There was some concern about whether the Bucks would be at the game on time, but as long as they made the 3:45pm sailing to Nanaimo, they would be OK.
They didn’t make it.
Now sitting at the ferry terminal waiting for the next departure at 6:30pm, it was made official that the game would not start on time.
With Cranbrook waiting to board the 6:30pm ferry that would have them over to Nanaimo around 8:00pm, the start time of Friday’s game was pushed back to 9:15pm.
It was going to be a little late to start the first game of three in less than 48 hours, but it would give the Bucks a little over an hour to get to the rink and hit the ice to get the game in.
At approximately 8:20pm, I was given another update on an already agonizingly long day:
“Still on the ferry.”
Now, what seemed to be a last resort start time of 9:15pm even appeared to be in jeopardy.
At 8:40pm: “Just got off the ferry.”
35 minutes ahead of the scheduled game time, after two long days of travel, the team was on the Island and heading for Frank Crane Arena.
The next update of Cranbrook’s whirlwind adventure came at 9:07pm from the play-by-play voice of the Nanaimo Clippers, Dan Marshall.
“Already a delayed start for the Clippers game tonight and the power at the arena just went out.”
A severe wind storm had knocked out power for a chunk of Nanaimo and Central Vancouver Island, including Frank Crane Arena.
The game couldn’t possibly still be played — could it?
After spending two days on the road, just to arrive two hours after the game was originally supposed to start — and now there’s no power at the arena?
Although it seemed like there was no hope, the Clippers’ released a statement on social media at 9:11pm indicating that the situation still had some movement:
“The power is still out at the Frank and both teams are monitoring the situation.”
Over half an hour went by, with members of the Bucks family puzzled that the game could possibly go on.
At some point, the players health and safety would need to be considered after the trip they had already endured, and two more games to be played in the next 48 hours.
Finally, at 9:37pm, the Clippers released another statement saying “the BC Hockey League has officially postponed the game tonight. Stay tuned for more details.”
A couple of minutes later, the BCHL itself released a statement, saying “due to a power outage at Frank Crane Arena and a previously delayed start due to travel issues, tonight’s game between Nanaimo and Cranbrook has been postponed to a later date. We will provide details on a new date in the coming days.”
At last, we could exhale. After around 36 hours on the road and what felt like a race to get to the finish line, the Bucks were finally able to head to their hotel — which had no power — around 10 o’clock on Friday night.
They finally knew that their game in Nanaimo would not be played, and they could rest and shift their focus to Saturday night’s contest in Port Alberni.
But not before road closures, bus failures, and two separate hotels in the same small town brought the team together as they tried to stay motivated for a matchup with the Clippers, which — at least for now — is postponed.