Thank you, Cranbrook — A letter from the Airey family

📸: Martin Ross / Cranbrook Bucks

Thank you, Cranbrook.

Three years ago in the middle of a pandemic, our son left home to play junior hockey for a new BCHL expansion team. At the time, we had no clue it would be three of the best years of his life.

We were lucky enough to be introduced to your great city when he was drafted by the Western Hockey League team that used to be there and it was through that experience that we learned what a great hockey city Cranbrook was.

To watch how quickly your city embraced and supported the new Cranbrook Bucks team was truly remarkable.

After only two short years (pandemic year doesn’t count), the organization has got to the point where no one really views it as an expansion team anymore. So much of the early success can be credited to the city and the leadership of the organization.

You are so fortunate to have owners like Nathan and Breanne Lieuwen who are passionate about building something special in the community they call home. I have no doubt that with them and Ryan Donald leading this team, you will celebrate a Championship very soon.

Amateur sports can be brutal in not allowing proper goodbyes. This past season ended way sooner than anyone would have hoped or expected, but we are fortunate to have had the lasting memory of Game 5. As Breanne Lieuwen would describe it: “Western Financial Place was bumpin.’”

There are so many people in your city we need to thank, but it all starts with your owner and local hockey hero in Nathan Lieuwen.

He saw something in our son, and gave him an opportunity to be embraced by your city. Nathan has become a mentor to our son in addition to an owner and goalie coach and we are blessed that he will have that relationship for life.

His billet mom Adele is also now a part of our family and I’m so impressed with towns like yours that open your homes to these young men as they pursue their dreams.

Coach Donald and the rest of the coaches, trainers, rink staff, and broadcast team are committed to your community and there is no doubt that this team is going to continue to be successful with them in place.

Pastor Kevin, as the Chaplain of this team, has also played a huge role in our son’s life and this team, and while he and his family are going through a very difficult time right now, I have no doubt that your community will support and walk through this long journey ahead with them.

We will miss everyone in Section C but its going to be very hard for us to stay away and already anticipate us making many more trips to town to cheer on the Bucks. Its difficult to separate a Buck from the Herd.


-Mike Airey

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