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Oil Caps start undefeated, nationally ranked

After two weekends of play in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, the Virden Oil Capitals were on a four-game winning streak and nationally ranked.
Oil Caps bench
Oil Caps bench

The Virden Oil Capitals romped past the Neepawa Titans, 6-2, at home last Friday. On the road on Saturday, the team beat Neepawa again – with rookie Nolan Chastko scoring the overtime winner in a 4-3 victory. The wins bolstered the club’s record to 4-0-0-0. Only the 5-0-0-0 Steinbach Pistons were also undefeated in the MJHL. In the Sept. 26 Canadian Junior Hockey League Top 20 rankings, Steinbach was second in the country and Virden fourth.

“I think our guys have really bought in to the way we feel we need to play, and their work ethic is as good as we have seen here for a while and we have had some hard working teams in the past,” Virden head coach Tyson Ramsey said of the reasons for his team’s success so far.

The Oil Caps hoped to keep winning when they hosted the Portage Terriers on Thursday after the Empire-Advance deadline. The teams meet again on Saturday in Portage.

Oil Caps 6, Titans 2

The Neepawa Titans opened scoring last Friday night but then the Oil Capitals exploded for four goals to lead 4-1 at the end of the first period. Nolan Chastko got things started with a pair of powerplay goals. Newcomer Josh Lehto and Andrew Blocker also scored in the frame. After Neepawa scored in the second to cut Virden’s lead to two, 4-2, the Oil Caps mustered two more in the third period. Nicholas Guberman and Brett Sabel lit the lamp. It was Sabel’s first in the MJHL.

“I think we had a mindset of putting pucks to the net early and often,” Ramsey said. “We felt we didn't maybe do a good enough job of that in the Wayway games the weekend before and I thought we went to the net a little harder against Neepawa.”

The Oil Caps bombarded the two Neepawa netminders with a combined 48 shots. Peyton Trzaska turned away 13 of the 17 shots he faced. Mason Lobreau stopped 29 of 31. Owen LaRocque earned the win for Virden with 24 saves on 26 shots. Eric Reid stopped all six shots he faced in spot duty in the third period.

For Neepawa, Brayden Michalchuk and Parker Korman scored. Virden was 2-for-5 on the powerplay. Neepawa was 0-for-5.

Lehto was in his first game with the Oil Caps after being acquired from Portage last week as part of the Bailey Monteith deal earlier this year. The 18-year-old forward from Thunder Bay played U18 AAA for his hometown Kings. He competed at the Tundra Oil and Gas Place in the Telus Cup Western Regionals last April.

The reported attendance was 980. Chastko was the first star, defenceman David Bielik the second, and LaRocque the third. Davis Chorney was the Gardewine Hardest Working Player. Jaxon Guthrie was the Mazergroup 7th Man.

Oil Caps 4, Titans 3 OT

On Saturday, Virden led 2-0 and 3-1 at the intermissions. In the third period, Neepawa scored twice – including on a late powerplay to force overtime. Chastko’s OT winner came a night after scoring two goals and recording three points. As of Monday, the 17-year-old Brandon product led the team with four goals and six points in three games.

“Nolan is just a very, very good player,” Ramsey said. “He has an elite hockey brain, and his skills are also elite. He has a great shot that he gets away very quick and always puts himself in the right places offensively. He is a natural goal scorer and that is something we felt our group needed. We are very happy to have Nolan here with us.”

In addition to Chastko, Dean Gorchynski, Colten Miller, and Guberman scored for Virden. Brayden Kohlman, Hayden Stocks, and Josh Romanyk Neepawa’s goals. Reid made 32 saves. Mason Lobreau stopped 27 for Neepawa. On the powerplay, Virden was 2-for-6, while Neepawa scored once on three shorthanded opportunities.


Chastko was selected as an MJHL Star of the Week. He had five points over two games. … The team recognize equipment manager Brian Mytopher’s birthday this week. … Former Oil Caps defenceman Justin Lee was named the captain of the University of Denver men’s hockey team. … Ex-Oil Cap and last season’s MJHL MVP Braden Fischer is now with the Minot Minotauros of the North American Hockey League. Elkhorn’s Colby Joseph also plays for the squad. … Carson Buydens, who was the MJHL’s Rookie of the Year last season with Virden, is with the United States Hockey League’s Cedar Rapids (Iowa) RoughRiders.

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