Last week was bittersweet for the Virden Oil Capitals.
The sweet part came when the squad opened the 2022 portion of its Manitoba Junior Hockey League schedule with an 8-4 victory Friday over the visiting Portage Terriers. The other part came when the club saw its Saturday rematch with the Terriers postponed due to COVID-19 related issues. The team expects to have all of its players available for this weekend.
The 15-14-2-0 Oil Capitals are scheduled to face the 18-12-0-2 Winnipeg Blues in two games this weekend. Game one is to be Friday in Winnipeg with Virden hosting Saturday.
Last Friday the Terriers led 2-1 in the first period at the Tundra Oil & Gas Place, which, due to COVID-19 protocols, was limited to a maximum of 250 fans with fewer than that attending. The Oil Caps outscored the visitors 4-1 in the second session to grab a 5-3 lead. Virden continued to display its scoring prowess in the third. The Oil Caps tallied three goals while holding Portage to one.
Braden Fischer recorded three points for Virden. The forward from Winnipeg found the back of the net twice that night. As of Sunday, Fischer was second in the MJHL in goals with 21 – one back of the leader Nathan Driver, the former Winnipeg Freeze player who joined the Oil Caps this week. As well, Fischer’s 46 points in 31 games had him fourth in the league scoring race.
Manson’s Bray Rookes also totalled three points last Friday. The defenceman had a goal and two assists. Layton Veitch, Trevor Hunt, Colten Miller, Carson Buydens and Tyler Thoendel also scored for Virden.
Goalie Eric Reid, a hometown product, turned away 25 of the 29 shots the Terriers sent his way. The Oil Capitals tested Portage’s Jayden Catellier with 43 shots. He stopped 35 of them.
Things got chippy in the third period. Sixty-nine of the games 73 penalty minutes were assessed in that period. The contest was the debut of recently acquired forwards Beau Larson, who had an assist, and Birtle’s Brody Wilson.
“I really enjoyed my first game with the Oil Capitals,” Wilson said. “The energy and excitement was super high and everyone welcomed me from the moment I showed up. For being my first game with the Caps, I felt super comfortable and welcome by the team, the players and staff, as well as the people of Virden.
“It was the Caps’ first game of 2022 and I felt that everyone played really well and battled hard. It was nice being able to contribute on the ice to win my first game in the league. I’m looking forward to being apart of this team and seeing what we can accomplish.”