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Oil Caps enter week on four-game streak

The Virden Oil Capitals are liking 2023 so far.

As of Monday, the team was on a four-game winning streak. The squad had gone 6-1 since returning from the Manitoba Junior Hockey League Christmas break. Last weekend the Oil Caps swept their two games versus the Niverville Nighthawks.

“I think our effort level has been exceptional and our willingness to stick to the game plan,” Oil Caps head coach Tyson Ramsey said. “Our special teams have also been very good along with our goaltending. We are finding ways to win games and that's what good teams do.”

Josh Lehto was named one of the MJHL Stars of the Week. The rookie forward from Thunder Bay had three goals and four points in two wins last week.

The team entered the week with a 20-17-1-0 record. On Wednesday, the Oil Caps were to host the Selkirk Steelers (14-20-3-1) for a postponed game after the Empire-Advance deadline. On the weekend, the Virden team hosts the Winnipeg Freeze (3-33-2-0) on Friday. The same two squads clash Saturday in Winnipeg.

On Jan. 31-Feb. 1, the MJHL and Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League will hold a joint showcase in Winnipeg. Each league will be represented by three teams of selected players. From the Oil Caps, Nolan Chastko will play for 18U White, while David Bielik suits up for 20U Black. Ramsey will be the head coach of 20U Red. Dana Warrener will be the athletic therapist for 18U White.

Last Friday night, the Oil Caps and Nighthawks were knotted at 1-1 after two periods. With 672 looking on, the hosts scored two powerplay goals and shut out the visitors in the third to win 3-1. Virden scored all three of its goals with the man advantage – going three-for-four on the powerplay. Ramsey said the team’s powerplay succeeded due to “Sticking to our structure and our attention to detail in terms of getting pucks to the net.”

Scoring for Virden were Colten Miller, Nolan Chastko and Lehto. Oil Caps goalie Owen LaRocque stopped all but one of the 35 shots he faced. At the other end of the ice, Chris Fines made 23 saves for Niverville. Brett Tataryn scored Niverville’s goal.

LaRocque was the game’s first star with Nolan Chastko receiving the second star and Bielik the third. Ty Plaisier was selected as the Gardewine Hardest Working Player. The U13 Hamiota Huskies were in the Mainline King of Trucks Kid Zone.

On Sunday afternoon in Niverville, Joey Bielik scored on a powerplay just less than three and a half minutes into the final period to put Virden on top 3-2. Lehto closed out the game with an empty net, shorthanded goal as Virden won 4-2. Niverville had led 1-0 after the first period on. Lehto and Roux Bazin scored in the first half of the second to put the Oil Caps in the lead, 2-1. Niverville was able to tie things up before the third.

Ramsey said his squad was able to win thanks to, “a very structured approach to the game and playing a simple game in which we managed the puck a lot better than the previous night. Our special teams were good again and Owen LaRocque was very good.”

LaRocque finished with 32 saves. He has backstopped the Oil Caps to their last four victories as of Monday.

Carson Reid and Desmond Johnson scored for Niverville. Nighthawks’ goalie Dane Couture recorded 22 saves.

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