Bisons interim coach building for long run

KEN WIEBE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:30 AM ET

Now that it finally feels like his team, Don MacGillivray has some lofty goals in mind for the upcoming Canada West hockey season.

The second-year head coach has essentially completed his first off-season of recruiting and he can't wait for training camp to open in September.

Although MacGillivray's tenure could come to an end at the end of the season if Mike Sirant decides to return from his sabbatical in Denmark, the current coach plans to get his club into the playoffs and see what happens from there.

"In recruiting, I focused on being here for the long term and whatever happens, happens," said MacGillivray, noting that two berths into the national championship are available from Canada West this season. "You have to go year-by-year. That's the approach I've been taking."

MacGillivray locked up another important piece to the puzzle yesterday as the Bisons announced that Selkirk Steelers sniper Kyle Howarth, who led the Manitoba Junior Hockey League with 141 points last season, has committed.

CLOSE TO HOME

"It's close to home and I wanted to pursue hockey and university at the same time," said Howarth, who helped the Steelers win the MJHL title, the Anavet Cup and earn a berth in the RBC Royal Bank Cup. "The national championship didn't go the way we wanted to, but it was a good experience. It was a real fun season and everybody had a blast."

With Howarth, who spent three seasons in the Western Hockey League before joining the Steelers, the Bisons now have five recruits with Tier I junior hockey experience.

And while it's no slight against the MJHL or any other Tier II junior league, having some players with Canadian Hockey League experience is essential if you plan to compete with the Alberta Golden Bears and Saskatchewan Huskies, the two Canada West powerhouse programs.

"Our guys understand that we're trying to find the best possible guys," said MacGillivray. "We needed some guys who could come in and really make an impact."

Howarth's twin brother Brent is planning to pursue a pro career in either the ECHL or the Central Hockey League but if that doesn't work it, there's a chance the brothers could be reunited with the Bisons in January.

HERD NOTES: The Bisons also announced that Sonny Mignacca is being brought back as the goalie coach for the upcoming season ... Mignacca, who spent four seasons in the WHL with the Medicine Hat Tigers before playing six years as a pro, was the Bisons goalie coach from 2003-04 to 2005-06 ... The Bisons will face the Manitoba Moose prospects at the T.G. Smith Centre in Steinbach on Sept. 29.


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