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Resilient Oil Caps enjoy strong season

Coach Ramsey points to strong leadership of Oil Caps season.
Tyson Ramsey - Head Coach & General Manager
Tyson Ramsey, Head Coach of the Virden Oil Capitals. PHOTO/Oil Capitals

When Virden Oil Capitals head coach Tyson Ramsey thinks about his 2021-2022 squad, it is likely its resiliency that he will remember the most.

The squad faced various kinds of adversity, including a 3-0 start. However, the team was very strong late. It capped a 30-20-4-0 regular season on a five-game winning streak. As the Manitoba Junior Hockey League West Division’s third seed, the Oil Caps swept the second seeded Waywayseecappo Wolverines in the first round of the playoffs to win nine straight. In the semifinals the Oil Caps took the Steinbach Pistons, the league’s top seed, to six games in a series that included two overtime contests.

“When you have a successful season there are many things that you look back on as reasons, but I think the one thing that stood out to me was the resiliency of this group,” Ramsey said. “They were able to challenge adversity head on and really responded positively on many different occasions.”

The Oil Capitals believed in their group this season and, around the national trade deadline in January, Ramsey, who also is the team’s general manager, and his staff made some moves to bolster it. That included bringing in veterans like Beau Larson, Brody Wilson and Nathan Driver. They all played roles as the team surged towards the playoffs.

“I think we made some real important personnel moves at the deadline to complete our group,” Ramsey said. “I feel like later in January and through the end of the regular season we really started to understand how we needed to play to be successful as a group. Our guys did a great job, and I am extremely proud of what they accomplished.”

This past season the Oil Capitals received strong leadership from its veterans. This included the eight 2001-born players aging out of junior hockey. Captain Logan Rands, a defenceman, and assistant captain Dylan Halliday, a forward, played four seasons in Virden. Forward Colin Cook and assistant captain Jackson Orr, a blueliner, and defenceman Nathan McInnis were with the squad for at least part of three years. Driver, Larson, and Elkhorn forward Parker Johnson each joined the Oil Caps during this past campaign.

“This group was exceptional in the fact that they made everyone feel comfortable right from the beginning of the season,” Ramsey said. “They were instrumental in creating a positive culture in our dressing room.  They will certainly be missed but we also feel like they have been good role models for the guys that will fill their shoes moving into next season.”

The Oil Capitals can return a strong group next season. League MVP Braden Fischer, who led the team with 35 goals and 74 points during the regular season, will head into his 20-year-old campaign. Talented young forwards such as MJHL Rookie of the Year Carson Buydens, third on the team with 53 points as a rookie; Tyler Thoendel; and Branden Huminuk, just to name a few, could be back. On the blue line Manson’s Bray Rookes, Fan’s Choice winner Trevor Hunt, and Most Improved Player David Bielik are among the possible returnees. Goalies Bailey Monteith and Eric Reid, a Virden product, are both eligible to return.