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Oil Caps face Titans in first round battle

The Virden Oil Capitals are seeking to vanquish the Neepawa Titans in their Manitoba Junior Hockey League first round series.
The Virden Oil Capitals will face off against the Neepawa Titans on Sunday, March 31, in Game 5 of the MJHL playoffs. To show community support for the team during their run for the Turnbull Cup, the Empire-Advance, along with 24 local businesses, created two banners which were presented to the team on Thursday, March 21. The banners were available at the last home game of the regular season, as well as at Mary Montgomery and Goulter schools, allowing fans to pass along support and good luck messages to the team.

As of Wednesday, the Capitals led 2-1 in the best-of-seven series. The squads split the first two contests. The Oil Capitals romped past Neepawa, 6-1, in the opening game. The Titans triumphed 3-2 in double overtime in game two. The day after that contest, Virden head coach Tyson Ramsey said, “We need to put that one past us and get focused for a big one here on Tuesday night.” They certainly did that. Virden responded with a 6-3 game three victory.

Game four was to be played Thursday night after the Empire-Advance deadline. The fifth contest will be on Sunday in Virden. If necessary, game six will be in Neepawa on April 2 with game seven in Virden on April 3.


Game Three Oil Caps 6, Titans 3

Josh Lehto posted four points and hometown product Bryce Bryant had three as the Oil Caps beat the Titans, 6-3, on March 26. Virden outshot the visitors 40-27 in front of 1,083 at Tundra Oil & Gas Place.

Neepawa scored first, but the Oil Caps responded with goals by Lehto and Naton Miller to lead 2-1 at the first intermission. The Titans tied things up in the second. However, Bryant and Virden’s own Braeden Lewis gave the hosts a 4-2 lead at the second break.

In the third, Roux Bazin increased the Oil Caps’ lead to 5-2 on a powerplay goal. Neepawa got a goal of their own with the man advantage, but Bryant added an empty net marker to cap the scoring.

Virden product Eric Reid made 24 saves for his hometown team. Mason Lobreau stopped 34 shots for Neepawa. Scoring for Neepawa were Hayden Stocks, Tim Tychonick, and Cater McLeod.


Game Two Titans 3, Oil Caps 2 3OT

Colton Alexander of the Titans scored the game winner in the second overtime session in front of the hometown fans on March 24. It was the first postseason victory for the Neepawa franchise since 2017, which was the last year they appeared in the playoffs.

“Sunday's game was the first playoff game in Neepawa for a number of years, so we knew it was going to be an exciting atmosphere to play in and it certainly was,” Ramsey said. “I thought we were a little tentative early in the game and allowed them to feel good about their game. Then in the second and a large part of the third, we were very good. We generated some extended time in their end of the rink and hit a number of goal posts. We were able to get the go-ahead goal and looked like we were in a good spot. Then some missed assignments in our own zone allowed them to tie the game and once you get into overtime anything can happen.”

The contest was tied 1-1 at the first intermission. Neepawa’s Tychonick and Virden’s Lehto scored in the first. After a scoreless second frame, Evan Groening put Virden up 2-1 just under five minutes into the third. With less than three minutes remaining in regulation, the Titans’ Cooper Kasprick tied the game at 2-2.

Reid made 36 saves. Lobreau had 28.


Game One Oil Caps 6, Titans 1

The Oil Capitals led 2-0 and 4-1 at the intermissions, respectively, on their way to a 6-1 victory to open their postseason on March 22.

“I thought we did a really good job of managing our emotions,” Ramsey said. “Obviously a lot of excitement for that game being the first playoff game and at home so I thought our guys were dialed in and channeled that energy in a positive direction. Our powerplay was very good going three for three and I thought Eric was very good in net when we needed him to be.”

Reid made 26 saves. Defenceman Ethan Guthrie scored twice and recorded an assist. Virden’s other goals came from Trevor Hunt, Miller, Nolan Chastk0 (who had three points on the night) and Bazin.

McLeod had Neepawa’s goal. Lobreau made 36 saves.


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