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Groening lights it up for Oil Caps since return

Evan Groening’s return to wearing a Virden Oil Capitals jersey was most definitely a welcome surprise.
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Evan Groening

The Niverville product spent his rookie season with the Manitoba Junior Hockey League club. After a season and a bit with the Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings, the 18-year-old was reassigned to the Oil Caps in December. As of Sunday, the 6-foot-1, 176-pound forward has averaged 1.05 points per game since his return.

“Evan is a dynamic player,” Virden head coach Tyson Ramsey said. “He is a very strong skater and is a big body that can play a physical as well as a finesse game. He has the ability to score, and he can be very hard to play against for the opposition. He has been a very welcome addition to our group.”

Groening has scored eight goals and recorded 13 assists in 20 games, as of Sunday. On Feb. 9, he lit the lamp twice and recorded four points in a 7-1 victory over Niverville. On Dec. 15, Groening had three assists in a 5-2 win against Swan Valley. In an 8-2 romp against the same squad on Jan. 5, the forward had two goals and an assist. What has enabled him to produce?

“I think what has allowed me to put up points so far this year is that I am being given opportunities and my teammates have also been huge contributors to my success so far,” Groening said.

There is a lot that Groening has liked since rejoining the Oil Capitals. As of Monday, the team leads the MJHL MGEU West Division.

“What I’ve enjoyed most this season is definitely getting involved with community and being able to play in front of the fans in Virden,” Groening said. “I also enjoy going to the rink every day and being around my amazing teammates.”

He billets with Tracy Koop and her children: Coleton, Georgia, and Mason. Groening said, “I love billeting with them, and I couldn’t ask for a better family to stay with.”

In 2021-2022, Groening posted 24 points in 44 games as a rookie with the Oil Capitals. That season he also played two games for the Wheat Kings. Groening spent 2022-2023 with the major junior club and saw action in 57 games. He accumulated 10 points. Groening had two points, both goals, in 15 WHL games this season before being reassigned. In January, the Prince George Cougars acquired his WHL rights. For now, Groening is focused on helping the Oil Capitals.

“Playing in the WHL has definitely helped me out coming back to the MJHL,” he said. “I’m a lot more confident in my abilities coming back into the league and I’m used to fast and physical hockey, which definitely helps out there.”

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