The University of Manitoba Bisons are no strangers to European Hockey and have made it a regular occurrence to challenge teams during their Summer off season from across the pond and beyond in preparation for the season ahead. This year the Bisons will challenge Patton Conference Champions Manchester Storm, Gardiner Conference Champions Fife Flyers and Challenge Cup winners Belfast Giants.
The Bisons Hockey team have been making tracks since as early as 1908 when they started competing in seniors competition. The team would not enter into University Competition until 1919. During this time the Bisons would continue playing Senior and Junior hockey coinciding with their University Conference and would eventually focus fully on University hockey ceasing Senior Hockey after the 1931 season and Junior hockey in 1937.
Throughout the course of their existence the Bisons Hockey organisation have housed many NHL alums such as Tom Cook who had gone on to win the Stanley Cup in 1934 with the Chicago Blackhawks but in this current day, an alum that will be most familiar comes in the form of a staff member rather than a student of the University and that is 2018 Stanley Cup winning coach Barry Trotz.
Trotz began his coaching career with the Bisons as their assistant coach during the season of 84/85 and would take up the role as head coach after a run with Dauphin Kings junior hockey club (from 1985-87) in the 1987/88 season.
The Bisons will first challenge the very first Patton Conference Champions Manchester Storm on Tuesday 21st August at the Planet Ice Altrincham. The current incarnation of Manchester Storm have only competed in the EIHL for three years and produced their most successful season during the 17/18 run finishing 2nd place with 75 points. Storm would make the playoffs but would fall to the Fife Flyers in an overtime loss during the Quarter Finals.
Their next challenge will be against the Fife Flyers on Thursday 23rd August at the Fife Ice Arena. Fife also come off of their most successful season in their EIHL history winning the Gardiner Conference for the first time and though they finished 7th overall in the league, there was only 4 points separating 7th and 3rd place. Fife made it through to the Semi Finals of the playoffs falling to the league champions and playoff champions.
To end up the Bisons UK run, they will finish in a double header against the Challenge Cup winners Belfast Giants on the 26th and 26th of August at the SSE Arena. Having won the Challenge Cup, they granted themselves entry in to the 18/19 IIHF Continental Cup. The Giants made the playoffs but would be knocked out by the Nottingham Panthers. Though the previous season didn’t go the way of the Giants, what they got out of their yearly efforts is what truly mattered and that is European Hockey.