Head coach Mike Sirant is building a pretty solid hockey team out at the U of M. On Wednesday, he announced the addition of four veteran players who starred in their respective junior leagues.
Sirant, who is entering his 19th season at the helm of the Bisons, announced that forward Justin Augert, defenceman Josh Elmes, goaltender Brendan Jensen and forward Colin Mospanchuk have all committed to the U of M hockey program for the upcoming 2014-15 season.
“We are very pleased to announce the signing of four more top recruits for the Bison men’s hockey program,” Sirant said in a written statement. “Colin Mospanchuk and Justin Augert are big, skillful power forwards who go hard to the net and can score. They like to play in the tough areas and compete with an edge. Josh Elmes is a big, strong physical defenseman with good mobility and the skill to get the puck up ice. The signing of Colin, Justin and Josh adds size, grit and depth to the Bison roster and they fit our identity of a team that is ‘hard to play against’. Brendan Jensen is a Californian who has valuable experience from the USA Hockey national development program, the WHL, and the USHL plus he is a talented, athletic goaltender with tremendous character and potential.”
Augert, 21, played four years in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League with the Steinbach Pistons and played on the league championship team in 2012-13. The 6foot-3, 206-pound power forward averaged a point per game over the last two seasons — 31 goals and 63 points with 194 penalty minutes in 62 regular season games in 2013-14. His best season statistically came during the Pistons run to the championship when he had 34 goals and 64 points with 167 PIMs in 60 games. Overall in his four seasons, the Winnipeg product had 83 goals and 167 points with 547 PIMs in 225 regular season games. He was named an MJHL Second Team All-Star while acting as the Pistons team captain in 2013-14.
Elmes, 20 (turning 21 in Aug. 2014), split 2013-14 with the Dubuque Fighting Saints and Fargo Force in the United States Hockey League. Prior to that, he played three and a half seasons with OCN Blizzard in MJHL. The 6-foot-2, 218 pound defenceman had a goal and four assists with 46 PIMs in 28 games while alternate captain at Fargo and another two goals and 10 points with 28 PIMs in 30 regular season games with Dubuque. In his MJHL career, the Brandon, MB product was an alternate captain and MJHL Second Team All-Star in 2012-13 while adding 11 goals and 53 points and 142 PIMs in 179 regular seasons games while also posting a goal and seven assists in 31 MJHL playoff contests.
Jensen, 21, played the last two seasons with the Fargo Force in the USHL and before that, played parts of three seasons with the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound netminder helped the Force to a championship final appearance in 2012-13 after posting a 24-11-1 record with a 2.92 Goals Against Average and a .911 Save Percentage in 38 regular season games. He was 6-16-3 with a 4.09 GAA and a .900 save percentage in 2013-14. The El Granada, California product started with the Giants in 2009-10 (3-2-1; 2.97 GAA) and played 30 games with Vancouver in 2010-11 with 8-13-1 mark and 3.76 GAA. In 2011-12, Jensen was on four teams starting with Vancouver and then Portland and Edmonton of WHL before finishing with Spruce Grove Saints of the Alberta Junior hockey League. That year, he had a 16-1-4 record with a 2.16 GAA and a .917 save percentage. He also attended the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks rookie camp in 2011.
Mospanchuk, 20 (turning 21 in July 2014), who originally committed to the U of M on Jan. 10, played the last three seasons with the Melville Millionaires in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League and prior to that played with the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues and Portage Terriers. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound. forward had his best season in 2013-14 when he was team captain in Melville and registered 20 goals and 48 points with 112 PIMs in 53 regular season games. He added two goals and four assists in 10 playoff games. A Winnipeg product, Mospanchuk had 35 goals and 84 points along with 247 PIMs in 141 regular seasons games with Melville. He added and eight goals and 19 points in 35 SJHL playoff contests. He started his career with the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers in 2009-10 and finished that season with the Winnipeg Blues. He split the 2010-11 campaign with Winnipeg and Portage. Mospanchuk also played with Team West at the world under-17 hockey championship in 2009-10. Mospanchuk will join Former Millionaires team captain Lee Christianson on the Bisons squad.
(With files from Chris Zuk, University of Manitoba Bisons)