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Johnston, Oil Kings excited for Nov. 18 home opener

We have been lucky to have such a great group of guys over the last few years here in Virden
Virden Oil Kings captain Keifer Johnston cannot wait to get on the ice with his teammates for the squad’s home opener. After three road games to start the season, the Oil Kings host the Hartney Blues Nov. 18 at the Tundra Oil and Gas Place. The senior team started the Tiger Hills Hockey League season with a pair of losses. It is looking to capture its first win of the season in Boissevain on Saturday before coming home to face Hartney. “It will be exciting to see a lot of the new players we have, either local or connected to town, playing at home for the first time,” Johnston said. “I know they are looking forward to it.” The Hartney contest is the start of a four game homestand for the Oil Kings. The second tilt of that stretch will see the Souris Elks visit on Saturday, Nov. 20. The Oil Kings are counting on Johnston this season for both strong play on the blue line and leadership. As the team’s captain, Johnston leads both on the ice and in the dressing room. “Keifer makes a great team captain, because of his ability to make everyone feel comfortable on a team or in the room,” Virden coach Tyler Campbell said. “He’s the first guy to introduce himself and get to know everyone. He certainly leads by example on and off the ice. A great character guy that everyone respects. “Also, his commitment level over the years is another reason guys look up to him. He’s always been one of the guys getting on the bus on a Sunday afternoon for a long road trip. You can just always count on him.” A defenceman, Johnston has recorded one assist in two games this season. “His ability to slow the game down and make smart passes, in my opinion, is his best asset on the ice, Campbell said. “He sees the ice very well and rarely gets beat.” Growing up, he was a standout for his hometown Virden Collegiate Institute hockey team. He suited up for Cartwright in the THHL and played a number of seasons for the Oil Kings in the North Central Hockey League before they joined the Tiger Hills Hockey League last season. “We have been lucky to have such a great group of guys over the last few years here in Virden,” Johnston said. “It has made it enjoyable to head to the rink or hop on the bus, even on the minus 30 nights.”