A contingent of Virden Oil Capitals helped a Manitoba Junior Hockey League squad to victory at the MJHL-Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League Showcase.
MJHL 20U Black beat SJHL 20U Gold, 4-2, on Jan. 31 in Winnipeg. It was the host province’s lone victory in six games at the event this year.
“It was great to get win in our second game after a tough loss in the first game,” said Oil Caps forward and MJHL 20U Black member Nolan Chastko. “There was a very competitive atmosphere for both games so coming away with a victory is always nice. The event was well organized and meeting new people from different teams is always a highlight in an event like that. The best part for me was how high the intensity was during the games.”
Chastko scored for the MJHL squad in the victory. His goal was assisted on by two of his Virden teammates – Josh Lehto and Braeden Lewis. Oil Caps goalie Eric Reid stopped 27 of the 29 shots he faced to backstop the team to the win. Other Oil Capitals on MJHL 20U Black included defencemen David Bielik and Trevor Hunt; and forward Roux Bazin.
On Jan. 30, MJHL 20U Black lost 4-3 to SJHL 20U White. Lehto lit the lamp. It was assisted on by Lewis.
Virden forward Bryce Bryant scored in MJHL 18U White’s 3-2 Jan. 30 loss to SJHL 18U Blue. Oil Caps defenceman Cole Slobodian had an assist on Jan. 31 in MJHL 18U White’s 5-2 loss to the same team. Former Oil Capital and Pipestone product Luke MacKenzie of the Niverville Nighthawks also played for MJHL 18U White.
“I really enjoyed the Showcase,” Bryant said. “It was a great experience getting to play with guys from different teams around the league but also compete against players from a different league. With the competition being so intense, it was a good place to compare myself to the rest and see what I can work on when back in Virden. Also, I enjoyed making some new friends and meeting up with some friends I haven’t seen in a while, but all in all a great experience and ready to get back to playing in Virden.”
Oil Capitals athletic therapist Dana Warrener also was part of the event. The results from other showcase action were: SJHL 20U Gold 5, MJHL 20U Red 2 and SJHL 20U White 7, MJHL 20U Red 5.
After the Showcase, the Oil Capitals fell 2-0 to the Steinbach Pistons on Feb. 4. The contest was scoreless until 5:10 remained in the third period. Kirk Mullen scored for the Pistons. With less than two minutes remaining, Steinbach’s Liam Doyle added an empty net goal. Reid stopped all but one of the 26 shots he faced. Pistons goalie Cole Plowman made 29 saves for his third shutout of the season.
“Our effort was not where it needed to be to compete against another top team in the league,” Virden head coach Tyson Ramsey said. “Instead of excited to play this game, we were slow and afraid to make mistakes. We made a small push in the second period and into the third but at the end of the day we were not nearly hard enough to play against.”
The Oil Capitals host the Niverville Nighthawks on Feb. 9 and play in Neepawa on Feb. 10. In Monday’s Canadian Junior Hockey League Top 20 Rankings, the team was sixth. The Oil Capitals enter the week with a 29-6-2-3 record.
Last week Hunt was named the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Defenceman of the Month. He recorded two goals, eight assists and 10 points in 10 games. He led all MJHL defencemen in points during January. Hunt helped the Oil Caps go 8-2. He also played in his 150th junior game.