With the fire of a national championship win dying down to embers, soft-spoken Erica Rieder of the University of Manitoba Bison women’s hockey team is looking towards a summer of relaxation.
In 2017-18 Rieder recorded 11 points – seven goals and four assists – while appearing in all 28 Bison games. The seven goals were a career high, and tied her for second in goals on the herd’s roster with forward Lauryn Keen.
“I felt good,” Rieder said. “There were a few ups and downs but that’s to be expected in such a competitive conference like ours. Some games went better than others but overall I felt pretty confident about my individual game.”
Rieder often goes about her business on the ice with very little fanfare, until she uses her blazing speed to carry the puck end-to-end. This ability was on full display during the U SPORTS National Championships in London, Ont.
“I think the best aspect of my game is both my speed and size,” she said. “I try to be an energy player, using my speed to join the rush and create things offensively and using my size to win battles in the corner and be a strong presence on the back end.”
These talents have not gone unnoticed by Bisons head coach Jon Rempel, as he often relies on Rieder to be a spark in key moments. Rieder herself performs at important times – the defender led the Bisons with four powerplay goals, and also had a team-best plus/minus at +13 .
“It means a lot,” she said. “Those important, high-pressure moments are what hockey is all about, and frankly, they are for sure the moments our team thrives on.”
Rieder will be heading into her senior season next year, and with the departure of Alana Serhan, Caitlin Fyten, Rachel Dyck, Venla Hovi, and Charity Price, her play will be important for continued success.
The Regina product said she believes her team has the pieces for a repeat, but maintains the group is not focusing on defending the title just yet.
“I haven’t really thought about it too much but I think with the core group we have, it is definitely a possibility,” she said. “For now, though, we are just savouring the moment.”
Rieder said she knows there will be a target on Manitoba’s back next season, adding a bit of pressure.
“I think coming off a national championship win there will for sure be heightened expectation going into next season,” she said.
“But I think that’s good pressure to have. It pushes us to perform at a new calibre and be a team that expects both more of ourselves and each other. We are certainly losing some key pieces to our puzzle but as we saw this year, we know what can happen when everyone buys into the process.”
One of those key pieces is the aforementioned Fyten, the Bison captain and a key contributor on the blueline alongside Rieder.
“Losing Fyten will definitely be significant for our back end,” Rieder said. “She was a big-minute player that brought an experienced presence to the ice each and every night and was a big part of why we were able to do the things we did.”
According to Rieder, the Bisons have the pieces to plug the hole.
“I do think though that our [defence] is very solid and has grown to be such a well-rounded group,” she said. “We had players step in and really embrace their roles this year and I only hope that will be the case again next year.”
The blue-line looks like Rieder’s to lead, and she is excited for what next season will bring for her game.
“I think for me personally, our defensive depth will only enhance and compliment my game,” she said. “And give me confidence to become even more offensive.”