After strong pre-season, Bison men’s hockey team looks ahead to season opener

By Nolan Kowal

After an off-season of aggressive recruiting and a strong pre-season in which they went 7-2, the Bison men’s hockey team is ready to start playing for keeps.

The Bison men open their regular season this Friday night at Wayne Fleming Arena against the Mount Royal Cougars at 7 p.m.

“The guys are ready to go, we’ve had a long pre-season,” said Brett Stovin, a second-year forward. “We have a lot of confidence coming out of pre-season.”

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Head coach Mike Sirant (left) and forward Brett Stovin (right) speak with media ahead of Friday’s season opener.

The Bison men were inconsistent last season, finishing the year with a record of 13-13-2 and losing in the first round of the playoffs. Stovin says the biggest difference from last year’s team to this year’s team is more depth at forward.

“We’re going to have that secondary scoring,” he said. “We might even have three lines, four lines that can put the puck in the net.”

Manitoba wrapped up their pre-season schedule this past weekend with two wins over Lakehead University. Head coach Mike Sirant says winning in the pre-season can certainly carry over into the regular season.

“It’s good to win in pre-season,” said Sirant. “It gets that momentum going into the regular season. It creates confidence in the players and belief, and we beat some good teams.”

The Bison men lost all four meetings with Mount Royal last season. Sirant says they will be a tough first opponent.

“They’re a very hard-working team. They play at a very high pace, they really push the pace,” he said. “They have skill and they’re very disciplined.

Manitoba has not won a season opener since 2011. After Friday night’s game, the Bisons and Cougars will play the rematch on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m.