Intense and physical

KEN WIEBE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:39 AM ET

Chris Falloon is anticipating a breakout year -- both for himself and the program.

The fourth-year Manitoba Bisons winger is coming off an MVP season, but the Herd struggled to a 10-16-2 record last season and missed the playoffs in Canada West hockey action.

But thanks to an improved supporting cast, Falloon's face lights up when asked about what training camp has been like.

"We've got a nice corps of guys coming back and (head coach) Don (MacGillivray) did an awesome job of recruiting," said Falloon. "Veterans are fighting for jobs. Even counting my years in the Western League, it's probably the most intense and physical camp I've been at. Everybody is excited but they understand it's going to take a lot of hard work to get to where we want to be.

"It was a long summer after missing the playoffs, but you try to use that as a little bit of fuel to make ourselves better and make a good run at it this year."

Falloon, a Souris product who played five seasons in the Western Hockey League with the Prince George Cougars, had 15 goals and 36 points last season.

"I want to be more of an all-around player than just kind of a one-dimensional (scorer)," said Falloon, 24.

If Falloon continues to improve, there's a good chance he'll try to take the next step at season's end.

"I'm just looking forward to have a good season here and then I'll look at my options," said Falloon. "Coming from the WHL, it's always been a goal of mine to have a pro career. But it's nice to know that I could be back here for a fifth year."

MacGillivray believes Falloon, who will be an alternate captain this season, will only get better.

FANTASTIC SHAPE

"We certainly don't want to see him drop off in terms of production," said MacGillivray. "He's come into camp in fantastic shape and has really led by example. He can walk the walk, so to speak. He was our top player last year and one of the top players in the league on a last-place team.

"He has tremendous vision and a tremendous shot. He's dangerous anytime he gets over the blue line. He doesn't panic with the puck and what I look most about him is that he wants to score."

The Bisons will play the first of eight pre-season games this Saturday in Dauphin against the Regina Cougars.

Manitoba will then face the Saskatchewan Huskies on Sunday before returning home.

MacGillivray is currently carrying 19 forwards, 10 defencemen and four goalies, but hopes to get down to around 25 bodies after two more pre-season games the following weekend in Saskatoon.


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