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Rookie Groening develops with Oil Caps, Wheat Kings

This town is an awesome hockey town
SPORTS-GROENING
Evan Groening

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PHOTO/VIRDEN OIL CAPITALS

Virden Oil Capitals forward Evan Groening has enjoyed his first tastes of Western Hockey League action and is hoping for a steady diet of the major junior league in the future.
The 16-year-old is taking advantage of the development opportunities offered by the Oil Caps and the Manitoba Junior Hockey League with a stated goal of cracking the lineup of the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings next season. As of Monday, Groening has been called up twice and played in two regular season games this season with the Wheat Kings, who picked him in the ninth round of the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft. 
“I had an amazing experience and learned so much from playing with those guys,” he said. “The hockey was very fast, and I had to make plays a lot quicker. The fans were great, and I was so excited to get my first shift in. One of the best feelings was getting that first shift in and getting all the nerves out.”
The Oil Capitals, who grabbed Groening in the second round of the 2020 MJHL Draft, believe in his potential as well as his ability to help the club this season. The 6-foot-1, 170-pounder from Niverville has four goals, six points, and 31 penalty minutes through 15 games this season.
“Evan is a great young player,” Virden head coach Tyson Ramsey said. “He has good size and speed, and he can think the game at a high speed for a young guy. His skills are impressive, and he has a real passion for wanting to get better everyday. He has a bright future in the game, and we look forward to helping him develop to help him succeed at the WHL level.”
Groening said that already his time with the Oil Capitals has helped his game. Before coming to the MJHL, he played in the U15 and U16 prep ranks for Oak Bluff’s Rink Hockey Academy.
“It’s a big step up from midget so the pace and physicality is a lot faster and harder,” Groening said of the MJHL. “That itself has made me a better player and learning from the vets, like Braden Fischer, has also made me a better player.”
With the Oil Caps, Groening billets with Tracy Koop and her children Coleton, Georgia, and Mason. He said they “are the best billets I could have had. They are such a great family and I’m so happy to be a part of their household.” Other aspects of Virden he has enjoyed are the community and the fans.
“This town is an awesome hockey town and there is nothing better than playing at home on a Saturday night with the fans in the building,” Groening said.