The Manitoba Junior Hockey League squad dominated the Winnipeg Freeze in a home and home series on the weekend. Virden’s own Eric Reid earned his second MJHL shutout last Friday as the squad romped past the Freeze, 7-0, on the road. On Saturday, Virden beat the Winnipeg squad, 8-3, in front of 752 at home. The Oil Caps are on a five-game winning streak. What was Virden head coach Tyson Ramsey most pleased with about last weekend?
“There were a lot of things we did well, but I thought our focus and ability to stick to our game plan was a key for our group,” Ramsey said.
After the wins over Winnipeg, the Oil Capitals are 14-12-2-0 on the season. The squad wraps up the 2021 portion of its season this week as it hosts the Steinbach Pistons on Friday and plays in the Automobile City on Saturday. The Pistons lead with MJHL East with a 21-6-1-0 record. On Jan. 7, the Oil Capitals open their 2022 schedule hosting the Portage Terriers.
Oil Caps 7, Freeze 0
Last Friday Reid stopped all 19 shots he faced to backstop the Oil Caps to the road victory. At the other end of the ice, Virden sent 38 shots Keegan Gordon, of which he stopped 31. Virden led 1-0 and 3-0 at the intermissions.
“Eric wasn’t busy, but he was solid when we needed him to be and I thought our group defended well in front of him,” Ramsey said. “We got back to pucks quickly and moved them out of our zone in a hurry and as a result spent less time having to defend.”
In the second period, Oil Caps defenceman David Bielik scored his first MJHL goal. He followed that up less than a minute later with his second. Also scoring for Virden were Evan Groening, Braden Fischer, Dylan Halliday, Bryden Kiesman, and Parker Johnson of Elkhorn. Carson Buydens recorded three assists, while Branden Huminuk had two. Oil Cap Nolan Wallace and Zach Ashworth of the Freeze dropped the gloves in the second period.
Oil Caps 8, Freeze 3
The next night at home, Virden jumped out to a 3-0 first period lead and were up 6-1 at the second intermission. Fischer led the way for Virden with two goals and four points. Seven different Oil Caps lit the lamp: Fischer, Manson’s Bray Rookes, Halliday, Colten Miller, Buydens, Groening, and Jack Oleksiuk.
“I thought our plan in the offensive zone was the best it has been,” Ramsey said. “We attacked with speed, moved the puck away from pressure and used what we were given to create offence. Our transition was quick, and we made a concerted effort to put pucks behind their defence and on goal.”
Virden goalie Ethan Kadatz made 20 saves to earn the win. Gordon stopped 39 for Winnipeg.
Fischer was the first star. Buydens was the second star, while defenceman Nathan McInnis, with two assists, was the third. Oleksiuk was the Gardewine Hardest Working Player.
Members of the Konektis Choir, the VCI Choir and the VCI Choir Alumni sang Christmas Carols and the anthem on Saturday. The Birtle U9 team was in the Mainline Kid Zone. Colby Hodson was the Mazergroup Seventh Player.
Last week Buydens had a goal and four assists. That earned him honours as one of the MJHL’s Stars of the Week.
Former Oil Capitals co-captain Jack Einarson continues to display his leadership and playmaking abilities. Playing for the Junior B Arborg Ice Dawgs, the 21-year-old leads the Capital Region Junior Hockey League with 38 points in 14 games. He is tied for the league lead in goals with 17.