Bison hockey continues to evolve

A U of M hockey player got a rare opportunity to practice and scrimmage alongside Mark Scheifele, Jacob Trouba, and many of the Winnipeg Jets’ top prospects as Bison forward Blair Macaulay accepted an invitation to the Winnipeg Jets 2012 Developmental Camp held July 9-13.

Macaulay had an outstanding year with the Bisons in 2011-12. The third-year veteran finished the season with a CIS-high 23 goals, was named the 2011-12 Canada West Most Valuable Player and was also nominated for the Sullivan trophy awarded to the CIS Player of the Year.

Bison head coach Mike Sirant was very happy for Macaulay, and hoped the experience would help the 24-year-old push his play to new heights.

“This will be a good experience for him in a number of ways,” Sirant explained. “He’s going to learn different things from the players and the different coaching staff at the prospect staff. It’s going to give him a good awareness as to where he is in terms of his present ability and strengths and areas where he still needs to improve on to keep elevating his game.”

“Overall I think it’s going to give him a good deal of confidence and motivation, so if he is back with the Bisons next year I think he’s going to be an even better player thanks to his experiences through the prospects camp.”

Sirant had the opportunity to watch part of the camp over the week, and felt Macaulay did well representing the U of M men’s hockey program. He is also pleased that True North has continued to support the Bisons after years of support when the Moose were in town.

“It’s very important for our program to have a strong relationship with the Jets. We had it before with the initial version of the Jets and then with the Moose. It’s great that this relationship is continuing.”

In terms of the Bisons’ own development over the offseason, coach Sirant spoke about the two latest recruits that have committed to play for the Bisons in 2012-13.

Defenseman Corbin Baldwin and forward Jesse Paradis are both Winnipeg natives who have spent several years playing in the WHL. Sirant expects both players to make an immediate impact onto the team.

Baldwin, 21, played four seasons with the Spokane Chiefs. Having completed his best season with the Chiefs in 2011-12, Baldwin was invited to take part in a couple NHL developmental camps this summer. Sirant hopes the 6’5”, 215 lbs defender will be an imposing figure on the blue line, and continue to fearlessly block shots and shut down opposing forwards for the Bisons.

Paradis, 21, is a gritty, two-way forward who spent the past five years splitting time between the Kelowna Rockets and Moose Jaw Warriors before playing for the Saskatoon Blades in 2011-12. At 6’1”, 190 lbs, Paradis is coming off his strongest WHL season had 49 points playing on the left wing with the Blades last season.