Heading into this season, many Bisons knew they were playing their final campaign in brown and gold.
Next year there will be a hole in the team’s leadership core after Caitlin Fyten played her final games as a Bison at the national championship tournament in London, Ont.
Talking about what ending her career on such a stage means, Fyten was the consummate captain, immediately making it a team moment.
“It means a lot but at the same time I’m just very proud of what our team did this year,” she said.
“We have a very close team. We’re all very good friends, and just to see the girls on this team work as hard as they do and put in the effort that they do has been unreal. So to see it pay off this year, not only for myself but for the entire team, has been awesome. I know that when we go out this weekend that every single one of those girls is going to play their hardest.”
Fyten has played her entire career with the Bisons, moving to Manitoba from her home town of Cremona, Alta., in 2013. Fyten missed only three games in her entire U SPORTS career, compiling 44 points – 10 goals and 34 assists – in 137 games on the Bisons blue-line.
The captain came up clutch for her team in the Canada West finals against Saskatchewan. In a goalless opening game, Fyten caught a pass at the blue-line and ripped a shot on goa, beating Huskies goalie Jessica Vance to give her team the win and a series lead they would never give up.
Fyten has never been known for scoring goals, preferring to chip in the odd assist every once in a while. Following a series against Saskatchewan, Bisons head coach Jon Rempel said the captain always does the little things right.
Fyten has also been known to play huge minutes for her club when called upon, anchoring the top defensive pairing alongside Erica Rieder. She’s played the most minutes of any Bisons player and is consistently top of the conference in that regard.
This will be the first and only national championship for Fyten as a player, and for her the chance to play on this stage was just a bonus.
“I know that no matter what happens, I think I’m going to be happy either way with just the way this year has gone,” she said. “Playing on this team has been just amazing.”
Manitoba entered the tournament as the top seed and finished the season ranked No. 1, and while Fyten agreed that the ranking carried some meaning in the tournament, she noted the team was not feeling any pressure.
“I think we’re kind of embracing it,” she said.
“I don’t know if we’re intimidating to any of the other teams or not, but obviously we’ve got a little bit of a target on our back. But we’re just embracing it because we know we’ve worked for everything that we’ve earned this year, so we’re going to be ready for whoever comes after us.”
Manitoba was more than ready, as Fyten and the Bisons blew past the Queen’s University Gaels with a 4-0 win and battled through the Concordia University Stingers in a 2-1 shootout win to advance to the finals.
In the final game, Manitoba took the host University of Western Ontario Mustangs to task, claiming the Golden Path Trophy with a 2-0 win on Sunday night.
“It feels unreal,” Fyten said postgame.
“I worked five years for this and to have my career turn out this way, I couldn’t ask for anything better. Watching it countdown with those last three seconds on the clock, it felt unreal.”