National champs return to the ice Friday to begin defence of title
Women's soccer kicks off Duckworth Challenge at Investors Group Field
The University of Manitoba Bison women’s hockey team enters the 2018-19 season as something they’ve never been before – defending national champions.
The team will begin their season and title defence this Friday night (Oct. 5) at 7:00 p.m. against the Calgary Dinos at the Wayne Fleming Arena.
The team’s national championship will be celebrated ahead of the game with a ceremony that will see their Canada West and U SPORTS title banners raised to the rafters where they will live as reminder of programs historic 2018-19 season.
“The thing that’s been preached since day one is that we can draw on the experiences from 2017-18, but this is 2018-19 and we’re starting at the bottom of the mountain along with every other program across the country,” said interim head coach Sean Fisher. “Our goal is the summit, but our focus is on the climb.”
Fisher – an assistant coach for the program for the past four years – is filling in for long-time bench boss and 2017-18 U SPORTS Women’s Hockey Coach of the Year Jon Rempel, who will be taking a break this season for professional development.
Fisher says that the message this season is the same, simply with a different voice.
It also doesn’t hurt that the team returns 21 of the 24 players that were part of last season’s championship roster.
“The culture in the room is really good. Returning 21 players off that roster is important, and the three freshmen on our team have fallen in line quite well,” says Fisher.
Leading the way will be eight fifth years, six of which come from the forward position in Erin Kucheravy, Courtlyn Oswald, Lauryn Keen, Alanna Sharman, Karissa Kirkup and Natasha Kostenko. Sharman was fourth in the conference in scoring in 2017-18.
Filling out the forward group are fourth years Allison Sexton and Jordyn Zacharias – the team’s leading scorer last year – as well as third year Sheridan Oswald, second years Madison Cole, Mekaela Fisher and Emilie Massé and rookie Kaitlyn Chatyrbok.
“The forward group is a diverse group. My expectation is that they go and play the game the right way. They’re detail oriented and hard to check. They play the game with pace, energy and tempo, and they share the puck,” Fisher says.
The defence is backed by two fifth years in Erica Rieder, one of last year’s U SPORTS Second Team All-Canadians and Alexandra Anderson.
The talent continues with fourth year Taryn Kokesch, third years Jenai Buchanan and Megan Neduzak, second years Lauren Warkentin and Brielle Dacquay-Neveux and rookie Chloe Snaith.
Second-year Lauren Tarashuk will lead the trio of net-minders. Taraschuk was named to the U SPORTS All-Rookie team in 2017-18 after posting a 10-2 record and a U SPORTS-leading goals against average of 0.71. Her efforts will be complemented by second year Devan Johnson and rookie Erin Fargey.
Tickets for Friday’s game are available at the gate. Adults are $10 while U of M students and fans under 17 are free. For more information visit gobisons.ca.
WOMEN’S SOCCER KICKS OFF 2018-19 DUCKWORTH CHALLENGE SERIES
The Bison women’s soccer team will face the Winnipeg Wesmen Saturday afternoon at Investors Group Field at 2 p.m.
The match will be the first in the series challenge between the cross-town schools that has built tradition around the friendly rivalry for the last 28 years.
Volleyball and basketball will be played later in the season.
Ticket’s for Saturday’s game are available at Ticketmaster.ca website for $12.50 while U of M students and fans 17 and under are free.
For more information visit gobisons.ca.