Acquired by the Virden Oil Capitals early this year, Nathan Driver and Beau Larson were pleased to be able to wrap up their 20-year-old seasons with the squad.
“I am very happy to finish my junior career off here in Virden, it’s a wonderful community,” Larson said.
They quickly earned contributing roles on Manitoba Junior Hockey League club. Each helped the squad make it to the MJHL semifinals.
“Nathan and Beau were both very important additions to our group,” Virden head coach Tyson Ramey said. “They have fit in extremely well and have brought different dimensions to our group.”
Both Driver and Larson have had junior hockey journeys. They have played in various leagues and at the Junior B level. They brought that valuable experience to the Oil Capitals.
“I think playing for different coaches helped me a lot because every coach has different good advice that helps me as player and as a person,” Larson said.
When acquired by Virden, Driver was leading the league in goals. He posted seven, along with 17 points, in 23 games for the Oil Caps. For the season, he had 55 points and 29 goals in 55 games. In the playoffs, Driver was second on the Oil Caps in goals with five and had seven points in 10 games.
“Nathan has an ability to get to places where he can score,” Ramsey said. “Obviously when you add one of the leading goal scorers in the league to your group, you feel good about that.”
A Winnipegger, Driver spent time developing his game at B.C.’s Okanagan Hockey Academy and Oak Bluff’s Rink Hockey Academy. He played in the MJHL as a 17-year-old for Neepawa. Driver split the following campaign between Neepawa, the Red Lake (Ont.) Miners of the Superior International Hockey League, and the Junior B Kelowna Chiefs. He returned to his hometown to play for the expansion Winnipeg Freeze in the abbreviated 2020-2021 season.
“It was very cool to be a part of something brand new like that, to set the traditions,” Driver said. “What I enjoyed the most was the people I met there.”
In Virden, Driver billeted with Lance and Janice Barrate and their sons Isaiah, Evander and Allister. Driver hopes to play post-secondary hockey next season. He would like to study political science and eventually go to law school.
Larson accumulated three goals and eight points in 21 games with the Oil Capitals in the regular season. In six postseason contests, he had two points.
“Beau brings a work ethic and energy to the rink everyday,” Ramsey said. “He is great in the dressing room and on the bench as his experience is valued by our group. … He is a good penalty killer and has really improved our team in that area.”
Larson played at the U18 and U15 levels in Swift Current. His junior career included stops at the Junior B level in the Kimberley, B.C. and Junior A in La Ronge and Weyburn. In La Ronge last season, Larson played for head coach Kevin Kaminski. “Killer” played in 139 National Hockey League contests and earned a reputation as a feared enforcer in the minor leagues.
“I really enjoyed my time with Killer in La Ronge,” Larson said. “He was definitely an awesome coach. I enjoyed learning lots about the game of hockey from Killer because he’s played and coached so much.”
Larson, who billets with Jack and Karen Forster, would like play college hockey. The Val Marie, Sask. product is also interested in working on his family’s ranch and being a wildland firefighter for Grasslands National Park. Larson has worked as a wildland firefighter the last two summers.