2020-21 Manitoba Bisons/CW Hockey

June 8: Bisons Have Seven LOIs Registered

In the strangest off-season ever, it is easy to forget about basic things like recruits, schedules, etc. Well, time to shake the cobwebs and get the 2020-21 season talk going.

The Bisons have seven players with registered Letters of Intent (LOI) at the USports desk. [Link]

Alec Malo - C – Flin Flon (SJHL)

Malo is from Laval, Quebec and started his junior career with the Gatineau Olympiques of the QMJHL in 2017-18. He then played in the QJAAAHL (their Junior A league, which they call AAA) in 2018-19 and in the SJHL with the Flin Flon Bombers in 2019-20. His numbers were 22-66-88 in 54 games. At 6'1" and 181 lbs, he could use some poutine and perogies Manitoba style

➤ Career Stats: Elite Prospects
➤ YouTube: Jan 20th
➤ Media: SJHL Story

Chase Hartje - D – Moose Jaw/Winnipeg (WHL)

Hartje is another WHL defenceman on the Bison roster, having played in Moose Jaw, Brandon, Kootenay, moving to Winnipeg with the franchise, then back to Moose Jaw. He is originally from Bemidji, Minnesota. At 5'11" and 172 lbs he is smaller than the usual Bison d-man.

➤ Career Stats: Elite Prospects
➤ Media: OSC : The Drive

Hayden Ostir - C/RW – Swift Current (WHL)

Ostir is a Winnipeg boy coming home after making the rounds in the WHL, covering Spokane, Medicine Hat, and Swift Current over the last four years. His numbers last year were 10-14-24. He is also 6'1" and 194 lbs. He also got a gold medal in the U-17s.

➤ Career Stats: Elite Prospects
➤ Media: SC Broncos : OSC
➤ YouTube: Feb 2nd/17

Liam Hughes - G – Winnipeg Ice (WHL)

But for one game in the AJHL, Hughes has played in the WHL for the last four years. After stops in Edmonton, Seattle, and Lethbridge, he backstopped the Winnipeg Ice last year. He had a 2.53 GAA, and a .914 S%.

➤ Career Stats: Elite Prospects
➤ Media: Lethbvridge : WHL

Noah Basarab - F – Johnstown (NAHL)

Basarab is a Gimli boy who went south after having played for Swan Valley and Selkirk in the MJHL. His stats were 16-12-28 last year.

➤ Career Stats: Elite Prospects
➤ Media: Johnstown Tomahawks : Athlete of the Week : Trib-Dem

Reece Harsch - D – Winnipeg Ice (WHL)

Having a WHL team in town is paying some recruiting dividends this year, as the Bisons land another d-man in Harsch. He is 6'4" and 201 lbs and wore an "A" last year.

➤ Career Stats: Elite Prospects
➤ Media: Winnipeg Ice
➤ YouTube: Feb 25/18 : Sept 19/17

Sam Stewart - D – Tri-City/Edmonton (WHL)

Stewart is another big d-man (6' 190 lbs) from Manitoba coming home for university. He finished last year with the Edmonton Oil Kings after four years with the Tri-City Americans, with a couple of stints with the Neepawa Natives in the MJHL.

➤ Career Stats: Elite Prospects
➤ Media: MJHL-WHL

June 9: News and Notes

The biggest story of the off-season is the unfortunate demise of the Horny Ones. This loss is somewhat blunted by the fact that TWU is joining the CW from the BCIHL and Macewan is coming from the ACAC. But coming a year after they hosted the U-Cup makes me wonder why they never devoted fundraising for the meat and potatoes, instead of the fancy dessert.

➤ Global News: University of Lethbridge committee to explore future of cancelled Pronghorns hockey programs
➤ UofL: Budget constraints spell end for University of Lethbridge hockey programs

Speaking of Holy Trinity, their coach is Barret Kropf from Estevan, Saskatchewan. I found a local news story about him.

➤ Estevan Mercury: Former Estevan resident preparing team for big jump

The biggest news on a national level is the cancellation of the fall sports (e.g. football) and the announcement that there would be no league play in CW hockey (amongst other sports) until the new year. Earlier, they had announced plans for a 20-game season in hockey (down from 28) and 5 games in football (down form 8).

This leaves maybe 10 weeks for a regular season and playoffs, if they want to keep the U-Cup in mid-March. I wouldn't be surprised to see playoffs truncated, perhaps confined to a single weekend conference tournament. That is all conjecture, though.

So no Vanier Cup, nor national tournaments of any type, in football, soccer, rugby, or field hockey.

I see that UVic's soccer teams are looking at an exhibition season for the new year. This may have applicability for other teams in other sports as well.

The Star-Phoenix story points out that we'll be waiting until October 8th for news on the January season, and the door is left open for provincial regulation. IMO, this makes an "unofficial" season for many teams a possibility.

➤ Winnipeg Sun: Canada West cancels fall university sports season, meaning no football or soccer for Bisons and Wesmen
➤ Global News: U Sports cancels 6 national championships due to COVID-19 pandemic
➤ CBC: Vanier Cup among national U Sports championships cancelled because of COVID-19 pandemic
➤ Times-Colonist: UVic’s fall sports cancelled due to COVID-19
➤ Star-Phoenix: COVID-19: U of S Huskies' fall sports cancelled for 2020 due to pandemic concerns
➤ National Post: Fall university sports cancelled

The Bisons had a small group of three grads (Adam Henry, Sean Christensen, and Jonah Wasylak) last year, all of whom found pro jobs in the ECHL before that season was cancelled. Also, first year goaltender Riley Lamb (who shared starting duties with Tyler Brown) also got a job.

Henry got a boat-load of awards, including top defenceman in the CW, first team all-star in the CW, and second team all-star in USports.

One former Bison not looking to ride the buses in the minors is Stephane Lenoski, who is now a MD.

➤ ECHL Tweet: Christensen and Wasylak to Norfolk
➤ ECHL Tweet: Adam Henry to Fort Wayne
➤ ECHL Transactions: Riley Lamb to Greenville
➤ GoBisons: Adam Henry named a 2019-20 Canada West First Team All-Star
➤ GoBisons: Adam Henry named Canada West Top Defenceman and recipient of Student-Athlete Community Service Award
➤ GoBisons: Adam Henry named a 2019-20 U SPORTS Second Team All-Canadian
➤ WHL: WHL Beyond Hockey: Stephane Lenoski — Sports Medicine Physician

Out on the East Coast, coach Trevor Steinburg is leaving the SMUskies after 23 years. He was national coach-of-the-year three times in that era.

➤ Chronicle-Herald: Stienburg steps down as SMU hockey coach after 23 years

The Province of Manitoba has pretty much eliminated the Wuhan virus and a local sports summer should get off the ground. FWIW, Manitoba's numbers are:

8 active cases, none of which are in hospital
285 recovered cases
7 deceased

That is a below-average flu season!

Local Manitoba baseball and softball people have announced that their seasons will be starting soon. Could hockey be far behind? And if minor can be played, why not university hockey? It seems you just need to complete some forms, and away you go!

➤ Portage Online: Baseball and Softball Seasons Will Return This Summer

That's a shame about Lethbridge. I was always hoping they'd add a football programme at some point, but that seems less likely than ever.


Normally we would be ankle deep in recruitment news and the various additions to exhibition schedules would be flowing at this time of the year. Instead we are witnessing recruitment news and a heavier than usual flow of players from university to pro.

The obvious reason for this state of affairs is the virus thing you may have heard about. So let's start there, because that affects when we will next see live hockey, then move into other news and notes.

The MJHL is getting prepped for a full season, with an exhibition season in September and a regular season in October. The linked story has the highlights of the plan, and has a link to a 14 page PDF document with all the details covering every minute detail down to travel, meals, and hotels. This sort of guideline is likely very close to what USports teams will need to implement.

Also, former Bison all-star forward Kevin Saurette (an MBA) is now the MJHL Commissioner, taking over from Kim Davis.

➤ MJHL: MJHL announces return to hockey for 2020-21
➤ Pembina Valley On-line: Sportsbeat - MJHL Commissioner Kevin Saurette (audio)
➤ Game On: Davis Retires, Saurette to Be New Commissioner of the MJHL
➤ Leah Hextall at Global: Hextall on Hockey: the MJHL’s new commissioner

The Monkeys are back after the world's shortest ever hiatus. They announced a bow-out due to lack of funds, but some organ-grinding by a monkey in a mask must be capable of raising money. I linked official and unofficial stories. None had a scoop on the dynamics that led to their change of heart. The original announcement was based upon funding shortfalls, rather than health concerns. SportsNet's story (from the CP) seemed like a scoop in the headline but really wasn't. Anyhow, the Monkeys found enough bananas.

➤ UofA: Golden Bears and Pandas 2020-21 Season Update
➤ CBC: Finances force University of Alberta to suspend operation of 6 teams for upcoming season
➤ UofA: Bears and Pandas Hockey teams reinstated by Canada West for 2020-21 season
➤ Canada West: Alberta reinstated as Canada West hockey member
➤ SportsNet: Alumni money restores University of Alberta hockey teams for next season
➤ Edmonton Sun: MODDEJONGE: University of Alberta players, coaches see hope as season again a possibility for hockey Bears, Pandas : RP @ Ottawa Sun & Chronicle-Herald

In the Town of Bedrock they have announced a solid set of recruits, and a former Dino evolved into a Duck. The eight announced new recruits are also listed at Elite Prospects and are:

  • Arjun Atwal (F) from Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL)
  • Luke Coleman (F) from Lethbridge Pronghorns (CWUAA)
  • Connor Gutenberg (F) from Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
  • Dakota Krebs (D) from Calgary Hitmen (WHL)
  • Max Patterson (F) from Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
  • Matt Quigley (D) from Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
  • Ryan Schoettler (D) from Prince George Cougars (WHL)
  • Zach Wytinck (D) from Regina Pats (WHL)

Coleman is a transfer from the now-defunct Horny Ones. He is a 2nd year player, coming off a 12-8-20 stats line in 28 games last year. He played his junior for the Calgary Hitmen. So 7-out-of-8 were from the WHL.

Dino grad Kodie Curran has signed an NHL deal. He finished a 5-year career in 2014-15 then was a late-season depth player for Hartford in the AHL. He then split a season between the AHL and ECHL before a 4-year stint in Scandinavia, with one season in Denmark, one in Norway, and two in Sweden. He will be turning 31 during the season, so this is the ultimate late-bloomer scenario. Why would the Ducks gamble on him? He was the Swedish league MVP last year!

➤ UofC: Meet the Recruits
➤ Elite Prospects: UofC Transactions
➤ UofC: Curran signs with NHL's Anaheim Ducks
➤ Elite Prospects: Kodie Curran Career Stats
➤ OC Register: Ducks sign defenseman Kodie Curran to 2-year, $2-million contract
➤ Chronicle-Herald: Calgary-raised defencemen knocking on NHL’s door after award-winning seasons
➤ ESPN: Defenseman Kodie Curran signs 2-year deal with Anaheim Ducks
➤ SportsNet: Ducks sign SHL MVP Kodie Curran to two-year contract
➤ NHL: Curran, SHL MVP, signs two-year contract with Ducks

The Bluegars have announced five recruits, one NCAA transfer and four WHL grads:

  • Rylan Yaremko (D) from Northern Michigan Univ. (NCAA)
  • Dom Schmiemann (D) from Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
  • Lane Gilliss (F) from Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
  • Riley Sawchuk (F) from Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
  • Kyle Olson (F) from Calgary Hitmen (WHL)

➤ MRU: MHKY: 2020-21 recruiting class
➤ Elite Prospects: MRU Transactions

The Banjo-Cats have a diverse recuiting list so far. Two Horny Ones transferring in, another transfer from the ACAC, and two recruits from each of the SJHL and WHL. The four new defencemen should help shore up their traditional weakness. Of course, depending who comes back.

  • Austin Pratt (F) from Regina Pats (WHL)
  • Dylan McCabe (D) from Battlefords North Stars (SJHL)
  • Jeff Rayman (D) from Lethbridge Pronghorns (CWUAA)
  • Taylor Fisher (D) from Lethbridge Pronghorns (CWUAA)
  • Carson Sass (D) from Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
  • Jayden Davis (F) from Estevan Bruins (SJHL)
  • Travis Mayan (F) from Alberta-Augustana Vikings (ACAC)

➤ UofR: Men's hockey announces addition of seven players
➤ Elite Prospects: UofR Transactions

After a shocking playoff run which earned them a berth in the U-Cup, followed by a cancellation on the eve of their first game, it looks like the new T-irds will not likely adequately replace the departed. They have two transfers from Lethbridge, just one recruit from the WHL, and four Junior A grads from three different leagues.

  • Conner McDonald (D) from Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
  • Logan Foster (F) from Humboldt Broncos (SJHL)
  • Tian Rask (F) from Melfort Mustangs (SJHL)
  • Michael Clarke (F) from Lethbridge Pronghorns (CWUAA)
  • Jackson Caller (D) from Vernon Vipers (BCJHL)
  • Dorrin Luding (G) from Winkler Flyers (MJHL)
  • Dan Gatenby (D) from Lethbridge Pronghorns (CWUAA)

➤ UBC: T-Birds add to strong recruit class
➤ Elite Prospects: UBC Transactions
➤ Vernon Morningstar: Vernon Vipers blueliner signs Canadian university deal
➤ Discover Humboldt: LISTEN PODCAST: Michael Clarke Joins UBC After Lethbridge Hockey Program Cancellation

The Banjo-Mutts have yet to announce recruits, but they have a slightly new set of logos. Their miscellaneous logos got the hind leg treatment. Should somebody tell them that the singular of "Huskies" is "Husky"?

They have not issued an official announcement on recruits, but Elite Prospects has compiled a list of four names, all of whom have an affinity for fire hydrants:

  • Jaxan Kaluski (F) from Swift Current Broncos (WHL)
  • Parker Gavlas (D) from Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
  • Ty Prefontaine (D) from Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)
  • Dawson Holt (F) from Vernon Vipers (BCJHL)

➤ UofS: Huskie Athletics unveils updated logos
➤ Elite Prospects: UofS Transactions

The Holy Trinity have no official announcement but Elite Prospects has compiled a list:

  • Jake Jurgeneit (D) from Yarmouth Mariners (MJAHL)
  • Travis Walton (F) from Nanaimo Clippers (BCJHL)
  • Jeremy Klessens (F) from Drayton Valley Thunder (AJHL)
  • Josh Boelema (F) from Briercrest College (ACAC)
  • Landon Fuller (D) from Vernon Vipers (BCJHL)
  • Connor Vermeulen (D) from Carnduff Red Devils (BSHL SrAA)

It is odd that those six players finished in last year in five different leagues.

➤ Elite Prospects: BCIHL Transactions
➤ Vernon Morningstar: Vernon Vipers blueliner signs Canadian university deal

The Griffins also have had no official announcement and only two names appear on Elite Prospects:

  • Ryan Winter (G) from Merritt Centennials (BCJHL)
  • Shawn Parkinson (G) from Melfort Mustangs (SJHL)

➤ GMU: Griffins hockey teams look back fondly on ACAC tenure as they prepare to move into Canada West
➤ Elite Prospects: GMU ACAC Page

August 23: More News

Another source of recruitment news is the USports Letters of Intent (LOI) page. It covers all sports and all conferences. UBC, Alberta, Calgary, Saskatchewan, and Regina have no men's hockey players listed. But Manitoba, Trinity Western, Mount Royal, and MacEwan have 5-7 players each. The lists here have the player's name and date of registration. The * denotes a player listed as a recruit at Elite Prospects.

➤ USports: Letter of Intent
➤ USports: Spread Sheet (xlsx document)

Liam Hughes 20-04-2020
Hayden Ostir 20-04-2020
Chase Hartje 22-04-2020
*Noah Basarab 23-04-2020
Samuel Stewart 29-04-2020
*Alec Malo 01-05-2020
Reece Harsch 04-05-2020

Only Basarab and Malo are listed in Elite Prospects transactions. Links to all players' Elite Prospects individual pages were in the post called "June 8: Bisons Have Seven LOIs Registered" above in this thread.

➤ Elite Prospects: Manitoba Transactions

*Dominic Schmiemann 05-03-2020
*Lane Gilliss 12-03-2020
*Riley Sawchuk 23-03-2020
Gary Haden 31-03-2020 (C) from Victoria Royals (WHL)
*Rylan Yaremko 22-05-2020
*Kyle Olson 15-06-2020

Haden had good WHL numbers last year (25-30-55 in 62 games) and previously played for the Medicine Hat Tigers and Saskatoon Blades.

➤ Elite Prospects: MRU Transactions
➤ Elite Prospects: Gary Haden

Aidan Steinke 10-02-2020 (F) Melville Millionaires (SJHL)
*Travis Walton 21-03-2020
Jamieson Ree 23-03-2020 (D) Briercrest Clippers (ACAC)
*Jeremy Klessens 26-03-2020
*Josh Boelema 04-04-2020
*Landon Fuller 09-04-2020
*Connor Vermeulen 17-04-2020

Also, Jake Jurgeneit is listed at Elite Prospects but not in the LOI. Steinke's SJHL numbers were luke-warm (28-37-65 in 153 games). Ree is a big d-man whose junior career spanned 3 teams in the AJHL and one in the SJHL.

➤ Elite Prospects: Trinity Western
➤ Elite Prospects: Aidan Steinke
➤ Elite Prospects: Jamieson Ree

*Ryan Winter 14-05-2020
Chase Thudium 29-05-2020 (F) Red Deer College Kings (ACAC)
Curtis Roach 31-05-2020 (D) NAIT Ooks (ACAC)
Connor Lyons 02-06-2020 (F) Canmore Eagles (AJHL)
Jordan Davies 10-06-2020 (D) NAIT Ooks (ACAC)

Also, Shawn Parkinson is listed at Elite Prospects but not in the LOI.

It seems a lot of ACAC players see a golden chance to make the jump to the CW with GMU. It would also appear that GMU has a much stronger recruiting class than TWU.

Roach and Davies are defencemen from NAIT, GMU's cross-town rival. Both were recruited from the AJHL to the ACAC when they left junior. Red Deer recruited Thudium from the Odessa Jackalopes of the NAHL (27-43-70 in 59 games in 2016-17). His ACAC career stats are 43-53-96 in 84 games. Lyons is from the Canmore Eagles of the AJHL (65-106-171 in 167 career games).

➤ Elite Prospects: MacEwan Team Page
➤ Elite Prospects: Chase Thudium
➤ Elite Prospects: Connor Lyons
➤ Elite Prospects: Curtis Roach
➤ Elite Prospects: Jordan Davies

I also have a hat-trick of miscellaneous stories you might want to check out. Former Bison Shaq Merasty has signed once again with the Wichita Thunder in the ECHL. He is now 29 and seems to be racking up more PIMs than points.

The second story is about a new First Nations league in Saskatchewan. I am not sure what calibre of league this will be. Will it be an intermediate men's league? Or an off-shoot of the infamous cash tournament circuit you may have heard about. There has been a National Aboriginal Championship for years. We'll see.

Finally, the story from Saskatoon is a nice story about Banjo-Mutt Kohl Bauml and his special needs little brother who travels about to cheer him on.

➤ Elite Prospects: Shaquille Merasty
➤ Pro Hockey News: Merasty returns to Wichita
➤ Moose Jaw Today: First Nations hockey league being discussed
➤ Windspeaker: 2020 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships set for Regina
➤ Saskatoon Star-Phoenix: Kohl Bauml's little brother, Ben, his biggest fan