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Next Generation: Cranbrook Bucks

Presented by Chevrolet.

In the weeks leading up to the start of the 2023-24 season, we will go team-by-team to profile new players entering the league for the upcoming season, including scouting reports from the coaches.

This year, we will go in reverse order of how the teams finished last season, starting with the two clubs that missed the playoffs and ending with the two league finalists. Next up is the Cranbrook Bucks.


In just their second full season in the BCHL, the Cranbrook Bucks had a fantastic 2022-23 campaign. The team finished second in the Interior Conference and third overall in the league with a 36-14-1-3 record.

In addition, two members of the team won year-end individual awards for the first time in club history with Nathan Airey taking home the Michael Garteig Trophy for Top Goaltender and Ryan Donald winning the Joe Tennant Memorial Trophy for Coach of the Year.

Despite all of this, it was a disappointing end to the season as Cranbrook was upset in six games in their first-round series against the Wenatchee Wild.

With a number of players moving on, Donald was tasked with assembling a new group of talent who will look to equal or surpass the standard set by last year’s Bucks roster.

New recruits

Brady Yakesh (2003, D)

  • Hometown: Delano, Minn.
  • Previous team: Madison Capitols (USHL)
  • College commitment: University of Minnesota

Yakesh started last season with the Sioux Falls Stampeders of the USHL, but was acquired by Madison early in the year. He chipped in two goals, 13 assists and 15 points during the season.

Donald’s scouting report:

“With all the players we moved on last year, we’ve been tasked with rebuilding our back end. We think Brady is going to be able to come in and be responsible in all three zones. He spent the last year in the USHL, rounding out his defensive game. You can see the offence has always been there, but we think we can pull a bit more of that out here in the BCHL with the way we try to play with our defensive group. He should be able to log a lot of minutes in a lot of different situations.”

Zion Green (2004, F)

  • Hometown: Birmingham, Mich.
  • Previous team: Des Moines Buccaneers (USHL)
  • College commitment: Northern Michigan University

Green split his time last year between two USHL teams, the Buccaneers and the Cedar Rapids Rough Riders. He had eight points in 42 games. The year before, he was a top scorer in the North American Hockey League with the Maine Nordiques, finishing second in team scoring with 47 points in 55 games.

Donald’s scouting report:

“He’s looking for a new role and a new opportunity. I think his game fits the BCHL a bit better than some other leagues. He’s somebody that will be relied upon in a lot of different situations, just based off his own experience. He’ll be able to create offence because he sees the ice so well. He should also be able to take advantage of playing in a few more offensive situations.”

Loke Södergren (2003, D)

  • Home country: Sweden
  • Previous team: Malmö Redhawks (J20 Nationell)

Södergren was the top-scoring defenceman and second leading point producer overall on his team in the Swedish junior league last season. He finished his campaign with 10 goals, 20 assists and 30 points in 50 regular-season games.

Donald’s scouting report:

“He was able to produce at the J20 level from the back end. We think that he can be a guy that plays well in all three zones and on both sides of the puck. He defends with his feet really well. He gets into space and can be physical when he needs to be. We see a unique ceiling from him offensively as well. We think he’s going to be able to be relied upon to produce offence from the blueline.”

Oskar Cederqvist (2003, F)

  • Home country: Sweden
  • Previous team: Växjö Lakers HC (J20 Nationell)

Cederqvist tied for the Växjö team lead in points last year with 36 in 46 games and also led them in goals with 17. His brother Filip is a 2019 draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres.

Donald’s scouting report:

“He’s got a ton of experience and played at a lot of different levels back in Sweden. He’s been relied upon to produce offence at the J20 level and we feel like he’ll be able to step into a pretty key role for our team and provide some offence as well. As an older player, we’ll look to use him in a lot of different situations.”

Joe Blackley (2003, D)

  • Hometown: Lockport, N.Y.
  • Previous team: Minot Minotauros (NAHL)
  • College commitment: Yale University

Blackley played his rookie junior season with Minot of the North American Hockey League last season where he contributed three goals, 16 assists and 19 points in 50 games.

Donald’s scouting report:

“Joe is a guy that I’m quite familiar with. I’ve always felt like he’s a highly competitive individual, a really strong skater and someone who can transport the puck with his feet in order to make plays. He should come in as a 20-year-old and be relied upon in all three zones and in all situations.”

Kaslo Ferner (2006, F)

  • Hometown: Kelowna, B.C.
  • Previous team: Kelowna Rockets AAA (BCEHL U18)

Ferner joins the Bucks roster full time after playing as an affiliate for the team last year. In four games as a call-up, he scored two goals and added an assist. With the Rockets U18 team, Ferner scored 12 goals and added 20 helpers for 32 points in 30 contests.

Donald’s scouting report:

Kaslo has been around our program for a little over a year, originally with our spring camp. We got to see first hand how he plays, the speed he plays with and the tenacity and edge he brings to his game. As a young player, he has a bright future. We’re looking forward to helping him grow and develop his game.”

Malachi Freh (2005, D)

  • Hometown: West Kelowna, B.C.
  • Previous team: Okanagan Rockets AAA (BECHL U18)

Freh spent the past four seasons in the Rockets system. The last two years with the U18 program, he had a combined 26 points in 68 games.

Donald’s scouting report:

“He came to us through our training camp last year, as well. He was able to play in some preseason games and showed us his IQ and his hockey sense, as well as his ability to defend with his feet, engage into space and take away time and space from his opponent. He’s a smart hockey player and a high-character individual. He brings a lot of those intangibles that we like to see in our players.”

Sammy Hynes (2006, F)

  • Hometown: Calgary, Alta.
  • Previous team: South Alberta Hockey Academy (CSSHL U18)

Starting the year as a 15-year-old last season, Hynes put up 23 points in 31 games at the U18 level for South Alberta.

Donald’s scouting report:

“Sammy is creative offensively. He’s got a lot of speed and a lot of grit to his game. He likes getting to the hard areas of the ice and working to get pucks back. We’re excited for what his offensive ceiling could look like as he continues to develop at the BCHL level.”

Danick Leroux (2005, G)

  • Hometown: Candiac, Que.
  • Previous team: Berkshire School (USHS-Prep)
  • College commitment: College of the Holy Cross

Leroux played prep hockey the past two seasons at Berkshire School in Sheffield, Mass. In 2021-22, he had a 2.55 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage.

Donald’s scouting report:

“With [last year’s starter] Nathan Airey moving on, Danick was someone we identified over the winter. He was finishing up his prep career at Berkshire and was looking for somewhere to step in and grow his game before he heads off to college in a few seasons. Our staff is excited to see what he can do as a prospect for us. He has really good feet. He’s aggressive and competitive. We like his athleticism and his ability to cover the lower half of the net and move and track pucks.”

Tyden Redlick (2005, F)

  • Hometown: St. Albert, Alta.
  • Previous team: St. Albert Raiders AAA (AEHL U18)

Redlick had a strong regular season in 2022-23 with St. Albert, notching 29 points in 37 games, but he took his game to another level in the postseason, leading the Raiders in scoring with 11 points in 10 contests.

Donald’s scouting report:

“He’s a high-character individual, so he fits our culture. He’s the type of person we are looking for when we bring young players into our group. He’s willing to work and willing to buy into the role and the opportunity and just get better every single day. He was St. Albert’s leading scorer in the playoffs, which is a pretty good indicator of how he’s able to perform in key moments during the season.”

Noah Urness (2005, F)

  • Hometown: Roseau, Minn.
  • Previous team: Roseau High (USHS-MN)

Urness was an offensive juggernaut for his hometown high school team last year. He was Roseau’s top scorer with 86 points in 28 games, including a team-high 45 goals and 41 assists.

Donald’s scouting report:

“He’s a highly skilled forward who had a terrific career at the Minnesota high school level. As he continues to round out his game and make some improvements in different areas, we’ll see that offence come though at the BCHL level as well. He’s got a pretty dynamic individual skillset for an offensive hockey player. It will be fun to work with him on that front and help him grow, develop and secure his future in college hockey.”

Tyler McGowan (2006, D)

  • Hometown: Irvine, Calif.
  • Previous team: Anaheim Jr. Ducks (16U AAA)

McGowan was the Ducks second-highest point producer on the blueline last season, piling up 25 goals, 41 assists and 66 points in 80 games across all competition.

Donald’s scouting report:

“The more film that we watched on him, the more impressed we were with Tyler. He defends with good intensity. He’s not shy about taking away time and space and engaging physically when he needs to. He’s got good poise with the puck. He’s able to make clean exits, whether it’s with his feet or by passing. We think he’s just going to get better and better with more time and experience at the junior level.”

Jacob Fletcher (2004, F)

  • Hometown: Midland, Ont.
  • Previous team: Northfield Mount Hermon School (USHS-Prep)

Fletcher had six goals and 20 assists in 23 prep-school games with Northfield Mount Hermon. He also played for the GLB Bruins 18U program where he put up a point per game with 21 in 21 contests.

Donald’s scouting report:

“Jacob is a player we identified last winter, playing prep school hockey. We felt like he really fit our identity and our brand of hockey. He can play with speed. He’s a creative player offensively and makes the players around him better. He’s very competitive too. He’ll fit in well with the way our culture works and the way we want to operate.”


Photo credits: USHL (Yakesh), CSSHL (Hynes), Dan Hickling (Urness, McGowan)