At a press conference Wednesday, Bison women’s hockey interim head coach Sean Fisher introduced the new captains and alternates for the 2018-19 season.
Defenceman Erica Rieder is the new captain, forward Alanna Sharman returns as an alternate, while Karissa Kirkup and Jordyn Zacharias will also wear an ‘A.’
“One of the strengths of our program — I would say probably the strength — is the culture,” Fisher said following the conference.
He said “the girls voted … their votes made it quite clear” and that the club has “leadership up and down our lineup.”
He singled out other fifth-year players Erin Kucheravy and Courtlyn Oswald as veteran voices that will share the burden in the dressing room.
New captain Erica Rieder made it clear that her selection by the team was an honour she will not take lightly.
“I feel very privileged to be in this position,” Rieder said. “I think to have the girls in the dressing room vote you into a position where you are the captain of the team is […] a great honour.”
Rieder led all Bisons defenders in points last season with 11 — seven goals and four assists — in 28 games. The Regina-born defender has been dominant over her U Sports career, racking up 48 points while missing just five games over four seasons.
She takes over after wearing the ‘A’ for three years under former captain and defensive partner Caitlyn Fyten. Rieder noted she will take those lessons learned from Fyten and carry them forward.
“I’ve learned a lot over the past few years just based on leadership,” she said.
“And I’ve made a conscious effort to try to be a better leader, and for sure learned a lot from the past leaders and especially Fyten. Just dealing with adversity and not shying away from conflict [that] may be in the dressing room, and how to handle those things.”
Rieder also lauded her new alternates for their character, calling them “outstanding people, outstanding players” and saying they will make “my job a lot easier.”
Sharman was an alternate captain last year, and will again be among the club’s lettered leaders.
The senior was second on the team in scoring last season, notching 20 points — three goals and 17 assists — in 28 games.
“We have so many leaders in our team,” Sharman said. “We are a very veteran group and even the younger girls […] are very strong hockey players and very great people. We have an easy job. I mean, we’re representing this team as leaders but we’re not the only leaders.”
Zacharias will be wearing a letter for the first time as a Bison. She is coming off a breakout season, tying for the conference lead in goals with 12 and leading the herd with 21 points.
Like her captain, Zacharias said she is honoured to be chosen as a leader by her teammates.
“It’s not up to the coaches, it’s up to the players, and to me I think that’s a lot more meaningful coming from your teammates that they think of you that way, and it’s very humbling,” she said.
Kirkup echoed her fellow alternate’s sentiment, saying that she was “very appreciative of this opportunity.” Kirkup spent all of last season rehabbing an injury and is “very excited to get playing hockey.”