Oak Lake’s own Riley Wallace was a goalie for the North Dakota school squad and shared his thoughts on the championship run in an earlier issue. Former Oil Caps captain Logan Rands was also on the team as well as fellow former Virden junior players Landyn Cochrane and Brayden Pawluk. At the national tournament in the Boston area, the No. 1-seeded MSU Beavers defeated No. 3 Adrian College, 1-0.
“The experience as a whole was unforgettable,” said Rands, who was an Oil Cap in 2018-2022. “Every single game had a championship feel to it. Being in a single elimination bracket tournament is something I had never experienced. It made each game feel so much more important and made the preparation before each of the games even more crucial.
“However, if I had to pick the most memorable moment of our championship run it would be jumping off the bench and throwing my gloves in the air alongside all of my brothers on our team and in front of all the family support we had in Boston after the final buzzer rang. That is a moment I will never forget.”
Rands joined the team at Christmas after playing senior hockey for the Virden Oil Kings. Due to injury, Minot State was looking to add a defenceman for the second semester. Head coach Wyatt Waselenchuk was searching online when he was reminded about Rands. He reached out to one of his players, a friend and former teammate of Rands, and was able to bring him to Minot. The coach said the defenceman was “maybe the biggest gift that Minot State hockey has ever received.”
“What a special guy … you couldn’t ask for a nicer kid and a leader …. adding that other top four defenceman, a right-handed shot which we certainly were looking for, and the confidence that he brings. Just couldn’t have been a better fit. I don’t know if we win that championship if it is not for him logging the kind of minutes that he did,” Waselenchuk said.
Rands, a Portage product, had four assists in 17 regular season games for MSU. He was often paired with Pawluk, a former Oil Cap. In his third season at MSU, the Teulon blue liner posted career highs with six goals and 18 points in 33 regular season games.
“He’s got an unbelievable shot and a heck of a first pass,” Waselenchuk said. “He does so many good things for us.”
Pawluk was a rookie for Virden in 2017-2018. Partway through the next season he was traded to Dauphin where he played the next season and a half.
Silverton’s Cochrane played his first two junior seasons close to home with the Waywayseecappo Wolverines. He joined the Oil Caps early in the 2017-2018 campaign after starting that season with the Minot Minotauros, where Waselenchuk was an assistant coach.
At MSU, Cochrane suffered a season-ending knee injury as a rookie. He remained with the squad as an equipment manager and supported his teammates as they won a national title. It was the last one they won until this past spring. The forward posted career highs with 18 goals, 20 assists, and 38 points in 34 games last winter.
“You can’t say enough about him, his parents, and just what an unbelievable piece he has been for our team for so long,” Waselenchuk said.
Cochrane graduated from MSU with a physical education degree. He is serving as an assistant coach for the Wolverines.