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New era for Bisons hockey

October 6, 2014 — 

It’s a changing of the guard for the Manitoba Bisons men’s hockey team. Over half the lineup this season is new as the program begins a new era. Gone are conference all-stars Dane Crowley, Ian Duval, Jeremy Schappert, starting goalie Joe Caligiuri, and defenceman Travis Bobbee. Incoming defencemen include  Reid Gow (fifth highest scoring d-man last season in the Western Hockey League) and Channing Bresciani (scored 10 goals last season for the Manitoba Junior Hockey League champion Winnipeg Blues), while the Bisons have bolstered their corps of forwards with Shaquille Merasty, Chad Robinson and Rene Hunter.

Last season the team battled to a fourth place regular season finish, and capped that off by pushing Calgary to the brink before dropping the Canada West Semi-Final series in overtime to end their 2013 season.

The goal to be one of the elite teams in the Canada West Conference remains the same for the men’s hockey team. In his 19th season as head coach, Mike Sirant is impressed at how quickly the new team has come together. Sirant feels the identity of the 2014 Bisons will be of a team that competes hard and plays an up-tempo, fast paced game with good puck management.

The new Bisons squad finally got rolling this past weekend thanks to a pair of wins over the University of Regina Cougars. With a 6-0 shutout performance in their Friday night home opener, and a 4-1 win on Saturday night to cap of the series, the Bisons move to a 2-2-0 record on the young season.

“Right from the forwards to the defence and goaltending, we thought everybody performed well and played their role. That’s what it takes to win at this level,” said head coach Mike Sirant.

The men’s hockey team is back in action on October 10 & 11 when they head to Saskatoon to face the University of Saskatchewan Huskies. Their next home game at Wayne Fleming Arena on the University of Manitoba campus will be October 17 & 18 when they host Mount Royal University.

The Bisons women’s hockey team is also entering a new era as they welcome 10 rookies to their team to start the 2014-15 season. In addition there are seven sophomore players in the lineup, making this one of the youngest women’s hockey squads in the conference.

New to the team are Lauryn Keen (former captain of the 2012 national champion and 2014 Manitoba Female Midget Hockey League champion Pembina Valley Hawks), Alanna Sharman (led the Winnipeg Avros in scoring the last two seasons), Courlyn Oswald, Erica Rieder and Megan Tully.

In his 11th season as head coach, Jon Rempel knows the players have the ability to compete, but the true test will be how consistently they compete. With the mix of veterans and newcomers, many players have a chance to shine. “The newcomers bring experience and have already achieved a lot,” mentioned Coach Rempel. “The vibe is positive among this year’s edition and the outlook looks strong.”

In their first weekend of regular season action, the women’s hockey team earned three points against the Regina Cougars thanks to a 1-0 win in double overtime on Friday night, followed by a 2-3 loss in overtime on Saturday night. The Bisons return home for their home opener series against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies at Wayne Fleming Arena on October 10 and 11.

Student tickets are only $5 and regular admission is only $10 for all Bisons hockey games. To view the full season schedule and to buy tickets, visit www.gobisons.ca.

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