By Derek Holtom
MJHL Web Correspondent
University of Manitoba Bisons’ men’s hockey coach Mike Sirant is quick to give praise towards the MJHL grads who now play in his program.
“The top players from the MJHL can play Canada West and NCAA hockey,” he said. “We identified an outstanding recruiting class this year – the top players from the MJHL – and we were successful in getting them to commit, and they’ve all done very well in the program so far.”
Most recent additions, Brad and Shawn Bowles did just about everything there was to do at the Junior A level. League championships. MVP awards. A national championship – it would be hard to say what they left unfinished by the time they graduated from the Portage Terriers last spring.
The twins from Elkhorn were heavily coveted following their graduation from the MJHL, with the duo ultimately landing in Winnipeg to play CIS hockey with the U of M Bisons.
Sirant, himself an MJHL alumni, was only too pleased to welcome the Bowles’ brothers into the ‘Herd’, and the two have not disappointed very early into their time with the Bisons.
“We were thrilled to get both of them to the Bisons, and I know they had a lot different options,” said Sirant. “So we were glad to see them represent their province and play for the Bisons.
“They’ve been really good for us,” added Sirant. “It’s a big adjustment from junior hockey to Canada West play – the players here are older, more experienced – but after a few weeks, they have already made a great contribution to our team.”
The Bowles’ are not the only first-year players to join the Bisons this year. In fact, the roster is well represented by MJHL alumni – veterans such as Justin Augert (Steinbach), Brett Stovin (Winnipeg Blues, Saskatoon Blades), and Shaq Merasty (Portage Terriers), to first-year players such as Quintin Lisoway (Neepawa and Steinbach) and Kamerin Nault (Winnipeg Blues). Sirant says the MJHL produced top-end players who can play and excel at the CIS level.
“They’re really good hockey players, and great people too, and that’s important when you’re recruiting for the Bisons,” added Sirant. “You can say the same thing about the Bowles’, and of Lisoway and Nault – they’re character people who would fit into any program, and we’re glad they chose to play with the Bisons.”
Sirant went on about the adjustment from junior to college hockey. The Bowles were workhorses for the Terriers during their championship runs, playing lots of minutes and scoring lots of points. After their first four games with the Bisons, Brad Bowles had a goal and an assist, while Shawn had one assist – much different stats than they are accustomed to posting.
“They have done well with the adjustment,” said Sirant. “They’re still playing a regular shift, they’re working as penalty killers, and getting some looks on the power-play as well.
“We’re aware of what these players can bring, and that’s why we’re so excited to have them on the Bisons. They play with an unmatched level of intensity, they’re very strong offensively, and they play with a real edge.”