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.