The squad has about 11 players back from the team that posted a MJHL-best 8-0-1-0 record last season. That campaign was paused and later cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think fans are going to see a team that plays fast and works tremendously hard night in and night out, which will allow us to get better every day,” Virden head coach Tyson Ramsey said. “It will be exciting.”
Up front, Ramsey said he likes “the combination of speed, skill and work ethic that our forward group will bring.” The Oil Capitals lost four of their top five scorers. However, they return five veteran forwards: sixth leading scorer Dylan Halliday (seven points in eight games last season), Colin Cook, Branden Huminuk, Tyler Thoendel, and Colten Miller.
One of the newcomers of note is 19-year-old forward Braden Fischer. The Winnipegger had 45 points in 58 games as an MJHL rookie with the Winnipeg Blues before playing last season in British Columbia.
“A very talented player who works extremely hard and will be a top forward in the league in our opinion,” Ramsey said.
With five veterans back, including captain Logan Rands, the Oil Capitals are counting on their blue line to be a strength.
“They bring experience, skill and willingness to defend,” Ramsey said. “We are excited about that group.”
Rands finished fourth on the team last season with eight points in as many games. The other veteran defenders back are Trevor Hunt, Nathan McInnis, Jackson Orr, and Manson’s Bray Rookes. The team has been pleased with what it has seen from Brandon’s Nolan Wallace and David Bielik of Winnipeg.
“Nolan is a strong defender with a great shot and David has elite skill and skating ability,” Ramsey said. “We look forward to watching them develop here with us.”
Second-year man Ryley Gross, rookie Eric Reid of Virden, and 20-year-old Dawson Rattai, who played Junior B last season, are battling for time in net.
“I feel like there is going to be a battle in the net for the starting spot,” Ramsey said. “That is a good problem to have, and we look forward to seeing who will step up and take the reins.”