Caitlin Fyten will return as the captain and Alanna Sharman, Alana Serhan, and Erica Rieder will be alternates for the University of Manitoba women’s hockey team this season. Bison Sports made the announcement at a press conference held on Oct. 12.
Fyten will remain as the team’s captain for her final year as a Bison, and her second time wearing the C. Fellow defender Rieder will don the ‘A’ for the third time in her Bison career, with one final year of eligibility left after this season. Sharman and Serhan will both wear an ‘A’ but alternate, one during road games and the other at home. Serhan is in her fifth year with the University of Manitoba, while Sharman is in her third.
The four women were quick to point out the depth of leadership throughout the team.
“I think back to when I was a first year, not necessarily saying that the leadership wasn’t there, it was just a very veteran group,” Serhan said.
“Relationships with the younger girls didn’t seem like it was a priority. Now having roles reversed we see the rookies coming in, I feel it’s super important to always keep them involved.”
Hailing from Porcupine Plain, Sask., Serhan has been with the Bisons since the 2013-14 season. She has tallied 66 points – 31 goals and 35 assists – in 113 games for the herd. So far this season, she has recorded two goals and an assist across six games played.
“Leadership is important,” Sharman said. “We have four strong leaders here, but we also have many strong leaders in the dressing room.”
Sharman, the lone Winnipegger among the Bisons’ leadership group, has had a major role in her team’s success. The Nelson Mac alumnus was third among Bisons in scoring last season, notching nine goals and 10 assists, while being restricted to 19 games. Over her three year career, Sharman has accrued 84 points in 79 games.
“As an older, veteran group, we have a lot of experience on our team,” Rieder said. “We know what needs to be done every day so I think that’s really important for the rookies to see.”
Rieder has been important the Bisons entering her fourth year. The defender was second among Bisons at her position in scoring last season, with 15 points – six goals and nine assists – in 25 games played. The Regina product has posted 18 goals and 22 assists during her 85 games in a Bisons sweater and, along with Sharman, represented her country during the Winter Universiade in February 2017.
“We experienced last year that our team has a lot of leaders, not necessarily our four,” Fyten said. “We try to do our best that everybody has a voice in the room, that it’s not just us doing things in the room. It’s a group effort and that’s what’s going to get us somewhere this year.”
A native of Cremona, Alta. Fyten was named captain last year, after wearing the ‘A’ in 2015-16. She’s recorded 38 points over her five year tenure patrolling the blueline for Manitoba.
The Bisons are off to a solid start this year, posting a 3-3 record while having tough matchups out of the gate. They began the year on the road with a series against a UBC Thunderbirds team that placed first in Canada West last season. The two clubs split their series, with the Bisons taking game one 5-4, and UBC taking the second 4-1. They then earned another split against the defending U SPORTS Champion the University of Alberta Pandas. The Bisons are coming off another weekend split against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, after dropping the weekend opener 4-3 Friday and rebounding for a 4-2 win Saturday.
The strength of the team’s play and a continuation of success from last year was on the leadership groups’ minds.
“I don’t necessarily think that we need to improve on too much,” Serhan said. “We’re a solid squad. I think one of the big things that’s definitely going to help us though is the depth in our lineup.”
All four women have started the season off well, combining for 12 points in six games. Serhan has two goals and an assist, Fyten has a goal and two assists, Sharman has three assists, and Rieder has a goal and two assists.
“I think we’re going to try and get better every single game, every time we go out on the ice, just develop more as a team,” Sharman said.