After splitting two games at home last weekend against the OCN Blizzard, the Manitoba Junior Hockey League club is playing six games in 10 days. Five of those contests are away from the friendly confines of Tundra Oil & Gas Place.
First the Oil Caps (8-9-1-0) head to OCN (7-10-0-1) to play the last two tilts of their four-game series on Thursday and Friday. The team is then in Portage la Prairie Monday and Wednesday as part of the MJHL Player Showcase. The Oil Caps play the Selkirk Steelers on the road on Nov. 26 and host the same team the next day.
The MJHL Player Show brings all 12 of the league’s teams to one location and draws scouts from various levels of hockey. It features a new format this season. After playing within their divisions up until the event, teams will now have the opportunity to compete against the other half of the league. In the new format Virden, the West Division’s third-place team, will take on Selkirk (9-8-0-1), No. 4 in the East, on Monday and Winkler (10-7-0-1), No. 3 in the East, on Wednesday.
“The showcase will be a good break from our regular routine, and we will obviously get a chance to see some teams from the other division, which will be exciting for us as a group,” Virden head coach Tyson Ramsey said.
Last Saturday night at home, the Oil Caps scored three in the third period to down the Blizzard, 4-1. A Tyler Thoendel goal gave Virden a 1-0 first period lead, but OCN tied it up in the second on a powerplay. In the third, veteran Oil Caps forward Dylan Halliday lit the lamp twice to stake his team to a 3-1 lead. Carson Buydens added an empty net goal to cap the scoring and create the 4-1 final score.
“We got great goaltending and our guys were very determined in the third period,” Ramsey said. “We had some sustained pressure in their end of the rink and were quite good in our end.”
Virden’s own Eric Reid turned away 32 of the 33 shots he faced. The Oil Caps sent 40 shots at OCN’s Nik Jerris and he made 37 saves.
Last Friday, the Oil Caps outshot the Blizzard 56-29. However, OCN triumphed, 3-2.
“I thought we played a good game,” Ramsey said. “Whenever you generate that many chances, you are doing some things right for sure. But we didn’t have any urgency going to the net and, as a result, didn’t score when we needed to and gave up some grade A chances that they capitalized on.”
In the first period, Evan Groening, on a powerplay, and Braden Fischer scored to give the Oil Caps a 2-1 lead at the first intermission. Neither team found the back of the net in the second. OCN scored twice with the man advantage in the third.
Ethan Kadatz made 26 saves for Virden. The Blizzard’s Steven Bacovsky stopped 54 shots.