The team kicked things off last weekend with the Comfort Inn and Suites Fall Training Camp. The Manitoba Junior Hockey League team had slightly more than 40 players – ranging from ages 16 to 20 – in camp. By Tuesday that number had been pared down to about 25. The Oil Caps plan to be around 25 by Sept. 17’s season opener at the Tundra Oil & Gas Place against the Waywayseecappo Wolverines.
“Camp went well,” Virden head coach Tyson Ramsey said. “We were pleased with the work ethic and the strides our guys have taken over a difficult period of time during the pandemic.”
The Oil Caps have 12 players back from last season, led by captain Logan Rands. Newcomers and youngsters are looking to fill spots left from players aging out or moving on, for example to the Western Hockey League, from the squad that posted the MJHL’s best record in the pandemic shortened season.
The training camp wrapped up as usual with the Garry Cup. The players were split into two teams and competed for the championship named after dressing room attendant Garry Remple. Team Red triumphed 7-1 in a contest that Ramsey described as “fast paced and physical.”
Now the focus shifts to preseason play. The Oil Caps opened exhibition play on the road Tuesday in Portage. On Friday, Virden hosts the Winkler Flyers. The teams play again the next night in Winkler. The Oil Caps wrap up the preseason on Sept. 14 in Portage. Regarding the preseason games, Ramsey said:
“We will be looking to be a fast paced, skilled team that outworks our opposition. We are looking forward to seeing how our guys respond in different roles and how some of our young players challenge for spots.”