The Manitoba Junior Hockey League team beat Neepawa in back-to-back games last weekend. On the road Friday, the Oil Caps won 5-2 and prevailed by the same score at home on Saturday. The squad has won four of its last five games and earned points in all of those contests after dropping its first three games of the season to the Waywayseecappo Wolverines.
“I think our group was very focused this weekend,” Virden head coach Tyson Ramsey said. “We obviously didn't like a lot about the previous series with Wayway and our guys really worked hard throughout the last couple weeks to prepare and be ready for Neepawa. Our guys are starting to get used to each other and I feel like our structure has come a long way.”
With a 4-3-1-0 record, the Oil Caps sit third in the MJHL’s West Division as of Monday. This weekend they will tangle with the Dauphin Kings, who are tied for the best record in the division – 6-2-0-0 – with the Wolverines. The Kings visit Virden on Friday and the teams meet in Dauphin the next night.
Kadatz & Fischer
Last week the Oil Capitals acquired 18-year-old goalie Ethan Kadatz from the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Drayton Valley Thunder for future considerations. The 6-foot-5, 170-pounder impressed in his first weekend with his new club. He backstopped the Oil Caps to two wins and stopped 59 of the 63 shots he faced.
“Ethan is a big body and moves extremely well,” Ramsey said. “He is quite composed for a young guy and we feel like he is only going to get better with experience.
With the addition of Kadatz, netminder Dawson Rattai has departed. Also guarding the crease for the Oil Caps are hometown rookie Eric Reid and second-year man Ryley Gross.
While Kadatz helped the Oil Caps keep the Titans at bay, forward Braden Fischer led the charge offensively. The 19-year-old from Winnipeg scored three goals and recorded two assists on the weekend. His exploits earned him the honour of being one of the MJHL Stars of the Week. As of Monday, Fischer’s nine goals tied him for the MJHL lead with Eric Fawkes of the Winnipeg Blues. Fischer sat third in the league in points with 15 through eight games.
In Neepawa on Friday, the Oil Capitals trailed 2-1 after the first period. The visitors scored four unanswered goals to close out the game. Fischer lit the lamp shorthanded to start the onslaught. Carson Buydens – continuing the strong play that earned him the MJHL Rookie of the Month award for September - scored to give Virden a 3-2 lead. Buydens had two points on the night. Fischer’s second goal of the evening made it 4-2 after two period. Elkhorn product Parker Johnson recorded his first goal in a Virden uniform to cap the scoring.
Branden Huminuk had the Oil Caps’ first period marker. With two points, he was named the first star of the game. Fischer was the second star. Neepawa’s Dallon Wilton earned the third star.
Kadatz made 27 saves. Emerik Demers stopped 38 of the 43 shots he faced for the Titans. Scoring for Neepawa were Will Highet and Rylan Gudnason.
On Saturday at home, Fischer scored in the first period to tie the game up at 1-1 following Highet of the Titans getting the contest’s first goal. Captain Logan Rands put one in on the powerplay and rookie Layton Veitch scored his first of the season to give Virden a 3-1 lead. In the third, Mitch Thiessen got one back for Neepawa but Jack Oleksiuk’s first of the year and a Colin Cook empty net goal helped stop a Titans’ comeback.
Kadatz stopped 32 shots. The Oil Caps sent 44 shots at Neepawa netminder Gavin Renwick. He had 40 saves.
With a goal and two points, Fischer was the first star of the game. Jack Oleksiuk, with two points, was the second star. Connor Brust was the third star. He assisted on both Neepawa goals. Cook was named the Gardewine Hardest Worker of the Game for the Oil Caps.