Dawson Densmore. PHOTO/SUBMITTED
Three Virden residents will be competing at the prestigious Brick Invitational Hockey Tournament.
After a couple years of absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event is back at the West Edmonton Mall. Established back in 1990 for 10-year-olds, this year’s tournament will include both 2012 and 2011-born players. The Virden trio of Mason Auger, Dawson Densmore, and Easton Pitz are competing on Manitoba Junior Ice teams.
The Brick draws talent-packed teams from Canada and the U.S. More than 200 Brick alumni have gone on to play in the National Hockey League, including Jay Bouwmeester, Mike Comrie, and Jordan Eberle. When asked what he is looking forward to most about playing at the event, Mason Auger said:
“To finally getting our chance to play together as a team in the West Edmonton Mall and represent Manitoba. We've been waiting and practicing for almost two years and it's almost our time.”
In preparation for the Brick, the Junior Ice teams – one in the 2012 age category and another in the 2011 division – have been competing in tournaments. Densmore has had a lot of fun playing for the Junior Ice so far this spring.
“There are so many things that I have enjoyed so far that it's hard to list them all,” he said. “I really enjoy having the opportunity to play a higher level of hockey, playing in new rinks as far as Moorhead, Minnesota and Toronto, Ontario, and making new friendships with all of my teammates. I have really enjoyed learning from my coaches and strengthening my skills to become an overall stronger player and teammate.”
The Virden players are certainly familiar with each other. This past winter Auger and Pitz were part of a Virden team that won the Parkissimo Hockey League. After that, the duo and Densmore suited up for a Virden Junior Oil Capitals AA team and won bronze at provincials.
“It was great playing with Mason and Dawson,” Pitz said, who noted about the three attending the Brick, “I know we’ll work hard, and our teams will do well.”
Mason Auger and Easton Pitz
Auger and Pitz suit up for the 2011 team. It competes at the Brick June 29-July 3. Auger is the son of Kati and Shane Auger. Head coach Jean-Pierre Vigier described Auger as a “mobile defensemen with a great shot.”
“His skating is smooth, and he competes on every play,” the coach said. “He is also a great team player.”
Pitz is the son of Barry and Tara Pitz. He plays both centre and wing.
“He is a powerful skater with great determination. He has a good shot and understands the game well,” Vigier said.
The team has placed third in tournament action in Winnipeg. At a Toronto event, it was fourth.
We have done well in all of the tournaments,” Pitz said. “I know we’ll play our best at the Brick tournament. We’ll score some more goals and work hard. I feel like we are getting better and better and by the Brick we’ll be ready.”
Densmore is playing in the 2012 division at the Brick. That section of the event runs July 4-10. Densmore, whose mother is Ashton Densmore and father is Travis Erickson, plays centre. Junior Ice 2012 head coach Brennan Frykas said that Densmore is “a very coachable player and a great kid in general.”
“He has great speed,” the head coach said. “He is one of our hardest workers, especially on the backcheck. He never gives up.
“Great shot and has great offensive capabilities - creating lots of opportunities around the net. Also, very good defensively. It has been a pleasure to have him on our team.”
As of mid-June, Densmore’s team has had success in four tournaments leading up to the Brick Invitational Hockey Tournament. At the NAHC Early Bird Tournament in Winnipeg the team placed third in the 2011 division. In Toronto, at the Hockey Hall of Fame Future Legends Tournament, they were third in the 2012 age category. At Winnipeg’s Spring Shoot-out Tournament in Winnipeg, the team won gold in the 2011 division. Playing in the NAHC Super Elite tournament in Winnipeg, in the 2012 age category against teams they will see at the Brick Invitational Tournament, the team earned first place.