After playing all five of their October games on the road, the Cranbrook Bucks spent all of November on home ice. They seemed to find their game right away, scoring nine goals in their first two home games, a win and an overtime loss.
The Bucks went on to play five games in November, and enjoyed more success than their five road games in October. All said and done, the Bucks finished November with a 2-2-1 record, and averaged 3.6 goals-per-game. The offensive attack began by scoring 15 times in their first three outings.
The @CranbrookBucks win big tonight, beating Prince George 6-2 in Cranbrook. Strong nights from Dane Dowiak (3G, 2A), Michael Hagen (1G, 3A), Noah Quinn (1G, 1A), Nathan Fox (2A), and another goal from captain Briggs Gammill. Jacob Zacharewicz earns his third win in net. https://t.co/QRtHDNJw68
— Chris Keck (@CK885) November 14, 2020
At times, they looked unstoppable, led by their top offensive pairing of Dane Dowiak and Briggs Gammill. It was a strong month for the Bucks, and they had some brilliant performances. Before we get to November’s three stars of the month, let’s quickly flashback to October’s edition.
While the Bucks rode a bumpy first month to a 1-3-1 record, there were some bright spots. Dowiak led the team in goals in October to earn the first star, while Gammill was tops in points and assists en route to being named the second star. Third star Noah Quinn scored a goal and an assist for two points in three games in the opening month and was a key special teams contributor.
As for October’s honourable mentions, Zeth Kindrachuk was a player who battled for every inch of the ice, and potted the Bucks first-ever goal. Goaltender Jacob Zacharewicz found his game nicely in October and finished the month with a 1-1 record, a 3.00 goals-against-average, a .897 save percentage, and one shutout.
Now, let’s take a look at who led the Bucks in November and are the three stars of the month.
FIRST STAR – DANE DOWIAK, FORWARD
For the second straight month, Dowiak led the Bucks in goal scoring and takes home first star honours. He scored five goals and added four assists for nine points in just five games in November.
— BC Hockey League (@GoBCHL) November 14, 2020
His biggest outburst came in the November 13 game, when the Bucks hosted the Prince George Spruce Kings. Dowiak scored a hat trick and added a pair of assists for a five point night in a 6-2 Cranbrook victory.
He was the Bucks most dangerous weapon again in November, doing more than just leading the team in goal scoring. While his five goals counted for 28 percent of the Bucks tallies, his nine points put him in on half of the team’s total offense.
Dowiak’s offensive output also put him among the league leaders during the extended exhibition season. He finished the pre-season with eight goals and seven assists for 15 points in eight games.
His eight goals put him in a three-way tie for fifth in the league, while his 15 points also cracked the top 10.
Where Dowiak separated himself was putting up those numbers in just eight games played. He led the BCHL with 1.88 points-per-game among players who played at least eight contests and was the only player in that same group to average a goal-per-game.
Dowiak was a clear leader on the ice for the Bucks and opponents began treating him as such. It will be interesting to see how he reacts to the league adjusting to him, as he goes for a third straight first-star honour during the first month of the season, whenever that is.
SECOND STAR – BRIGGS GAMMILL, FORWARD
Just like Dowiak, Gammill is named the second star in back-to-back months. His memorable month began by being named the first captain in franchise history on November 5.
Q: Who scored the first @CranbrookBucks goal at Western Financial Place?
A: Captain Briggs Gammill! pic.twitter.com/C00XIIcqse
— BC Hockey League (@GoBCHL) November 7, 2020
On November 6, Gammill hit the ice for the first time as captain of the Bucks. He scored a goal and added two assists in that game, and scored two more goals the next night.
Gammill went on to score four goals and add three assists in five games during the month. He finished the exhibition season with four goals and seven assists for 11 points in eight games.
The well-rounded forward continued to show the playmaking ability and leadership qualities he displayed in October. Gammill and Dowiak are determined to lead the charge for their team and the Bucks are a better team with that pair on the ice.
THIRD STAR – MICHAEL HAGEN, FORWARD
Hagen’s month also began by being included in the announcement of the Bucks captains, as he was named an alternate. The 20-year-old has shown strong leadership since being acquired in the Bucks first ever trade and it flourished after a letter was added to his jersey.
— Cranbrook Bucks (@CranbrookBucks) October 1, 2020
Like Dowiak and Gammill, Hagen was an offensive leader for the Bucks in November. He seemed to be overshadowed by the big two upfront, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t produce.
In the same game that Dowiak put up five points on November 13, Hagen had four points of his own, with a goal and three assists.
He finished the month with three goals and four assists for seven points in five games. For the entire exhibition season, Hagen had four goals and six assists for 10 points in eight games.
Watch for Hagen to continue leading the Bucks in many different ways, including, but not limited to, offensive production.
Just as I did last month, I’ll recognize some players who just missed the cut for the three stars of the month. Unlike last month where I gave a pair of honourable mentions, three players are included this time around.
— Cranbrook Bucks (@CranbrookBucks) November 5, 2020
Rhys Bentham, defenseman — Bentham could easily have been named a star in either of the last two months. He’s been a team leader on the back end, playing a solid, responsible game, and opponents don’t generate much when he is on the ice.
Like Gammill and Hagen, Bentham’s month began by being named to the Bucks leadership group, as an alternate captain. The former Calgary Royals U18 AAA captain was an obvious choice as a leader of the young expansion team in Cranbrook.
Bentham went on to match his October production with a pair of assists in November. He finished the exhibition season with four assists in nine games.
Nathan Fox, forward — Fox seemed to take a big step in November, from a young rookie camp addition to a player who looked comfortable playing at the BCHL level.
He spent much of November playing with the Bucks strong offensive units, Including a fair amount of power play time. After a good month of November, Fox finished the exhibition season with a goal and four assists in eight games.
Cole Assailly, defenseman — Assailly was another player who played with a lot of confidence in November. He was given plenty of ice time on both special teams and at even strength. A strong month for Assailly allowed him to finish the pre-season with seven assists in nine games.