Josh Lehto's family has played a big part in the hockey career of the Virden Oil Capitals forward.
"My brother and sister both played high levels of hockey and my whole family has always loved the game," he said. "My siblings would push me to be better on our backyard rink and I think that has helped me lots in my hockey career."
Lehto's brother, Zach, played at the Junior B level. His sister, Mack, competed for Lakehead University in the American Collegiate Hockey Association Division II ranks. In Virden, the youngest sibling of the Thunder Bay clan is succeeding as a rookie in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Lehto has 12 goals and 23 points in 34 games.
"Josh is a very multi-dimensional player," Oil Caps head coach Tyson Ramsey said. "He skates well, is strong on his skates and has an ability to score goals. For just a young guy, he can make positive contributions in so many aspects of the game. We are really looking forward to watching him grow as a player and person. He is going to be an elite player in our league in the next two years."
As of Sunday, the 18-year-old ranked first on the Oil Capitals in goals and was in third in points on the team. Lehto had two goals in a game against Portage in September. In October, he posted three points in two consecutive games versus Niverville.
"The biggest thing I think that has allowed me to put up points this year is having confidence in myself and my coaches giving me the opportunity to do so," Lehto said.
Last season Lehto captained his hometown U18 AAA Thunder Bay Kings. He was selected for the Greater Toronto Hockey League All-Star Game. Lehto started this season with the MJHL's Portage Terriers. He was moved, after appearing in one game (in which he scored), to Virden. The deal completed the future considerations portion of a previous trade that sent goalie Bailey Monteith to the Terriers.
"When I got traded I wasn’t very surprised, but I still was a little shocked when it happened," said Lehto, who billets with Diana MacDonald, and also noted, "Playing for the Oil Caps, my favourite things have been hanging out with the team in the lounge and the home games at the Tundra Oil and Gas Place."