At home last Friday, Braden Fischer was the hero as he scored in overtime to propel the Oil Capitals to a 5-4 victory over the Neepawa Titans. The next night the extra session did not go the Virden team’s way and it fell, 5-4, in Neepawa. The Oil Caps’ efforts netted three valuable points out of a possible four for the Manitoba Junior Hockey League standings. Virden’s 2-3-1-0 record and five standings points has it tied with Neepawa (2-3-1-0) for fifth in the sixth-team West division. The Oil Caps are just three back of Waywayseecappo, which leads with eight and a 4-2-0-0 record. Virden head coach Tyson Ramsey thought his squad did some good things over the weekend.
“We have started to learn and apply the structure we feel will make us successful,” he said. “I think in order for us to take the next step, we need to now become a more consistent hockey club and look to get better every time out.”
The Oil Capitals meet the Titans again this weekend. Game one is Friday in Neepawa with action taking place at the Tundra Oil and Gas Place on Saturday.
Johnson, Kiesman added
The Oil Caps welcomed two familiar faces last week. The team swung a trade for Elkhorn’s Parker Johnson and had former Western Hockey League player Bryden Kiesman join.
The 20-year-old Johnson was acquired from the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard for 2003-born forward Ryland Kuczek and future considerations. While Johnson did not pick up a point in his first two games as an Oil Cap, he definitely has points producing potential. Last season the forward had four goals and six points in seven games split between Swan Valley and Portage.
A 19-year-old from Winnipeg, Kiesman played exhibition games with the Oil Caps in 2017-2018. He spent the past two seasons with the Moose Jaw Warriors. Kiesman had an assist in 11 games played last season.
Oil Caps 5, Titans 4 OT
In their first game against the recently renamed Neepawa Titans, the Oil Caps prevailed at home. Dylan Halliday scored on a first period powerplay to put Virden up 1-0 in the first period. Rylan Gudnason tied the game for Neepawa before the first intermission.
Gudnason scored again in the second period followed by his teammate Kieran Thiessen to stake the Titans to a 3-1 lead. Before the second break, a Tyler Thoendel goal pulled Virden to within one, 3-2.
Oil Cap Joey Bielik tied the game at 3-3 but Jaeger Lapointe put Neepawa on top again – 4-3. Halliday scored his second of the night, with 17 seconds to go, to send the contest to overtime and set up Fischer’s heroics.
“I thought we did a good job of staying focused on our game plan and learning from our third period mistakes in previous games,” Ramsey said. “I didn't like our second period, but we bounced back in the third and I was proud of our group. That was a big win for us.”
Fischer, Halliday and Neepawa’s Gudnason were the stars of the game. Manson’s Bray Rookes was named the Gardewine Hardest Working Player of the Game. Captain Logan Rands recorded three assists. David Bielik had two helpers.
Virden goalie Dawson Rattai stopped 31 of the 35 shots he faced to earn his first win in the MJHL. Emerik Demers had 39 saves for Neepawa. Attendance for the game was reported at 723.
Titans 5, Oil Caps 4 OT
Camden Smith gave Neepawa an early lead on the powerplay last Saturday, but Oil Cap Evan Groening tied things up before the end of the first period.
In the second frame a shorthanded marker by Josh Romanyk and an even strength one by Connor Brust put Neepawa on top 3-1. After Halliday made it 3-2, the Titans made it a two-goal game, 4-2, after Will Highet scored. Carson Buyden scored on the powerplay in the final three minutes of the period to cut the Oil Caps’ deficit to one, 4-3.
Buydens scored his second of the night – good for his third point in the game – to tie the game. He was named an MJHL Star of the Week. Lapointe scored in OT to give the Titans the win.
Virden’s own Eric Reid made 32 saves on 37 shots in the OT loss. Demers stopped 29 of the 33 shots he faced.