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Photo credit: Garrett James Photography
Story by Kenneth Wong
Cranbrook Bucks forward Noah Quinn was raised on the ice.
Born in Nelson, B.C., Quinn recalls fond memories of playing hockey with his father and skating on the public rink with his mother. At age 13, he moved to Penticton to attend the Okanagan Hockey Academy, which is where he realized he wanted to make a career in hockey.
“I sort of fell in love with the game and knew it would be my career,” said Quinn, “I played a lot of sports. I played baseball, I played soccer, and then I kind of just knew hockey was the sport that was the one I wanted to pursue and I fell in love.”
A year later, he moved to Trail, B.C. where he played for the Kootenay Ice under-18 team for two years before receiving a phone call from Ryan Donald, the general manager and head coach of the Cranbrook Bucks.
“He just gave me a call and more or less offered me a spot on the team,” said Quinn. “Knowing what Cranbrook had to offer with their hockey town and the facilities, and then seeing the ownership group that was involved, it was pretty much a no-brainer. It was something I wanted to be a part of, being one of the first ever players to be a part of the expansion.”
The Cranbrook Bucks were introduced as the BCHL’s 18th franchise in 2019 and were set to debut during the 2020-21 campaign. Unfortunately, their inaugural season was interrupted by the global outbreak of COVID-19 and the league was forced to hold a shortened 20-game pod season with no fans in the spring. According to Quinn, that time was by far the biggest struggle in his hockey career.
“It was three or four months where we were just practicing and not knowing if we would play games,” he said. “And then finally. getting the opportunity to play and then unfortunately going down with an injury – that was one of the biggest struggles.”
Donald recalls that 2020-21 season as a test for many of the Bucks players.
“The one thing that I really remembered from that time, just for everybody, was how resilient these young men were,” said Donald, who is now in his third season at the helm. “Going through that with an unknown end date to everything, but continuing to work at their craft, work at their game and continue to get better every single day.”
Quinn rehabilitated his ankle that summer and returned to hockey last year with an clear mind. A strong sophomore campaign where he was the team’s second-leading scorer led to him earning an NCAA scholarship from Bemidji State University.
This year, Quinn was the Bucks top scorer in the regular season, scoring 21 goals and adding 28 assists for 49 points in 52 games. Cranbrook improved on their first full season last year by finishing second in the highly competitive Interior Conference in 2022-23 with a record of 36-14-1-3, setting up a first-round playoff matchup with the Wenatchee Wild, starting Friday night.
Quinn misses his hometown of Nelson, but he has grown to enjoy living away from home to chase his hockey dream. Plus, home is only a few hours drive down the highway.
“Growing up in a small town, there’s definitely some limited resources,” he said. “But I’d say a big thing for me was just sticking to the process, getting better and using what I have available to me in the small town. Just because you’re in a small town, doesn’t mean that your hopes and dreams are out the window. Just keep working hard and someone will eventually see you and acknowledge your skills.”