When Nellie Minshull first joined the University of Manitoba Bisons women’s hockey team, her goal was to contribute as much as she could to the team.
She did a lot more than that during her university career as the 23-year-old Pierson native wrapped up her career as the second-leading scorer in the program’s history. In her five years with the Bisons, the 5-foot-7 forward played 119 games, scored 44 goals and recorded 97 points.
Minshull is proud of her body of work with the Bisons, but it’s not what she’ll remember most when she looks back on her time with the Bisons. That honour goes back to her rookie season, when she scored the game-winning goal of the third and deciding game of the Canada West final in the third overtime period to lift the Bisons to their first-ever conference championship.
"I would say probably my biggest highlight was scoring the game-winner in the final game of the Canada West finals in my first year," she said. "That would be my very favourite highlight. … I just remember being attacked by the rest of the team. It was unreal."
While that memory stands out for Minshull, she knows how special her university career was.
She helped guide the Bisons to their first two conference titles in the 2008-09 and 2010-11 seasons as well as a national bronze medal in 2008-09. Manitoba went 0-2 in its other appearance at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championship.
She also served as an alternate captain for her final two years.
Manitoba struggled in Minshull’s final season — finishing sixth in Canada West this year with a 10-12-6 record and getting knocked out in the first round of the playoffs — but Minshull played well. She scored 10 goals and posted a career-high 27 points in her 28 games. She added one goal and one assist in Manitoba’s two playoff contests and was named a second-team Canada West all-star.
While she would have liked to finish her career with a better playoff push, Minshull will always look back fondly on her time with the Bisons.
"It was the probably the best time of my life so far," she said. "I was always so grateful that I ended up deciding to go play for (head coach) Jon (Rempel) at the U of M. Just the whole atmosphere there and he always recruits good people and my teammates were always awesome. My teammates were unreal and it just flew by."
Things are about to change a lot for Minshull now.
She is finishing her bachelor of arts degree with a criminology major this semester and is lost with what her next step in life will be, especially since so much of it has been based around her playing hockey.
"I’m undecided (on my future) at this point. Still figuring it out," she said. "It’s kind of scary. I’m so used to every year since I went to Balmoral Hall, you go to school and play hockey. It’s been like that for a long time. It’s going to be different."