WINNIPEG — For many of the players, it will be an experience of a lifetime. For others, competition may outweigh the fact they’re in Europe.
The Manitoba Bison women’s hockey team is venturing out to Finland and Sweden for some team-building and to work out any pre-season kinks before returning to Canada and beginning the regular conference season.
Spearheaded by fifth-year forward Nicole McGlenen, the Bisons will play a pair of games in Helsinki and Stockholm August 25 to September 1.
“She’s (McGlenen) really been the driving force behind this, along with a couple other players,” said head coach Jon Rempel. “They’ve done a really great job of doing this and I think that it’s going to be a great experience for a lot of them.
“Most of my players haven’t been to Europe and some may never get back there. To have the opportunity to go over there and play, and see things and experience things that you wouldn’t normally get to do is invaluable to them as people.”
The Bisons will also have their own personal tour guide during the trip. Forward Venla Hovi, who the team recruited last summer, is a Finland native.
Rempel said the trip will be mostly experiential than anything, but hasn’t completely set aside the competition the Bisons will be facing. The Herd plays KJT-Helsinki on August 25 and Blues Espoo on August 26. A three-day break will allow for some sightseeing before they meet SDE-Stockholm and DIF-Djurgarden Dam in Stockholm on August 30 and September 1, respectively.
“We’ve got enough other competition and exhibition coming down the pike when we get back to tune us up the right way, so it’s both. It’s the hockey piece, but it’s also the experience,” Rempel added.
The Bisons will skate together as a group for the first time on Saturday, along with their five new recruits for the 2016-17 season.