Stovin, Henry pay big rewards for Bisons
For Winnipeg’s Adam Henry, moving from the Western Hockey League to the University of Manitoba Bisons in 2015 turned out to be an easy assignment. Granted, it took a few weeks, but by the time Henry got the feel for CIS hockey, he played like a four-year veteran.
The same could be said for Stony Mountain’s Brett Stovin. Stovin came out of the Western Hockey League, with a little detour through the ECHL and ripped up the Canada West hockey conference last season.
For Bisons head coach Mike Sirant, the rookie performances of Stovin and Henry made last year’s recruiting efforts all the more rewarding. Sirant’s two rookie stars – a couple of players who were both named to the Canada West All Rookie team – will now have a full season of Canada West and CIS hockey under their belts and Sirant can’t wait for what Year 2 has to offer. The season gets underway this weekend at Wayne Fleming Arena.
“They’ll be the cornerstones of our team moving forward,” said Sirant bluntly. “Both Brett and Adam consistently performed at the highest level on the ice and provided outstanding leadership. The Canada West conference is very high-caliber hockey so we need to have great recruits coming in each year for the Bisons to be competitive. To have two players among the Top 6 of the conference’s rookie players is quite an achievement for Brett, Adam and the Bisons”.
“It reflects very positively on our program overall that we were able to recruit great hockey players and people like Brett and Adam. The quality of players currently in our program is a big reason why we were able to attract more top recruits like Remi Laurencelle from the Everett Silvertips, Nick Zajac, the captain of the Saskatoon Blades, Kamerin Nault from the Winnipeg Blues, and former Brandon Wheat Kings forward Quintin Lisoway to Manitoba this year. When you combine our recruiting efforts with the fact that we only have one graduating player from last year’s team, Luke Paulsen who was an exceptional Bison, it’s going to make for an extremely competitive training camp this fall.”
Indeed, the Bisons should be a very competitive team this season. And as Sirant points out, it will start with Stovin up front and Henry on defense. It also doesn’t hurt that both players are outstanding students. In fact, while Stovin carries a B+ average, Henry earned a 3.5 GPA and got himself in the Asper School of Business. Not bad for a couple of young men who had been away from school for a few years while chasing their hockey dreams.
Last year, Manitoba with a very young team finished with a 13-13-2 regular season record – good for fourth in the conference, but lost in the opening round of the playoffs to a very good, veteran Calgary Dinosaurs outfit. Despite the first round exit, however, three Bisons players received individual accolades at season’s end.
Jordan DePape won the Canada West scoring title with 41 points in 28 games, and has now registered 92 points over three seasons with the herd. Up until this past year, no other Bisons player had ever won the scoring title since the Canada West and GPAC merged in 1985-86. Jordan was also a Canada West First Team All Star and CIS All Canadian.
Additionally, DePape was named team MVP for a second straight year and was also the male recipient of the Student-Athlete Leadership and Community Development Award at the Bison Sports year end banquet. Stovin and Henry were both named to the Canada West All-Rookie Team, while Henry was also named to the CIS All-Rookie Team.
As the team’s top-line centre, Stovin was able to generate tremendous chemistry with DePape and finished with 26 points in 28 games, while Henry was an anchor on the Bison’s power-play unit and finished with 14 points.
Given Stovin’s combined 262 games of regular season WHL experience, as well as eight games of professional experience in the ECHL, he was actively recruited by a number of CIS programs, but like so many Manitoba players, the desire to come back home and play for the Bisons was ultimately too strong to pass up. After all, it never hurts to use one’s WHL scholarship money to return home and play in front of your family.
“Basically it came down to this is where my family is from,” Stovin said bluntly. “I grew up in Stony Mountain and I’d been away from home for so long and I plan on going pro after this so I’ll be away from home again. I have a couple of little brothers and some family that I haven’t been around much, so that was the biggest thing for me.”
For Henry, it was pretty much the same thing. Of course, what Henry didn’t expect was how impressed his parents would be with the caliber of play in the CIS.
“This is fantastic hockey,” Henry said. “My parents came out to watch and they were blown away by how good it is. I just can’t believe how under-rated it is. It’s great hockey.”
Henry gave his coach all the credit for his tremendous rookie season.
“In the end, I was totally surprised by the success I had,” he said. “A lot of it had to do with Mike (Coach Sirant). He gave me lots of ice time and by the end of the season, I was playing nearly 30 minutes a game. Let’s be honest, if I wasn’t given the opportunity I was given, I never would have won any of the honors I did. To make the Canada West All-Rookie team and then, to make the CIS All-Rookie is almost hard to believe”.
“I’m very happy with how things turned out and I’m really excited about what we can accomplish next season.”
Brett Stovin will be taking over the @umanitoba Instagram account on Friday, October 14. Take a look to get a behind-the-scenes view of Bisons game day!