The Virden Junior Oil Capitals U13 squad won four games and tied one at the provincial tournament in Winkler March 10-12. In the finals, the Virden team defeated the host Winkler squad 6-3.
“This group really got along well,” head coach Barry Pitz said. “They always wanted to hang out even off the ice. Everyone contributed to the team's success. They are the champs!”
Assistant coach Brett Braybrook said the team “really just focused on getting better each game.” The Junior Oil Capitals opened their tournament with a 3-3 tie versus the hosts from Winkler. Next the team dispatched Thompson, 15-1. After pool play, the Virden squad earned a semifinal berth with a 5-2 victory over Morden. The Junior Oil Capitals beat Portage, 5-4, to advance to the championship game. This meant a rematch with Winkler.
“I think we just stressed in a situation like a provincial final to go out and have some fun and belief in our group,” Braybrook said. “Do what you do best as an individual and let the rest take care of itself. Trust the process, trust what we have done to get to this point, trust and believe in your teammates.
“We didn’t want to overcomplicate things and have them gripping their sticks too tight worrying about the other team and their tendencies. We wanted to focus on playing our game, which was with speed and structure.”
This season Virden Minor Hockey had three U13 teams during the season – Pitz, Braybrook, and White. Players from those teams tried out in October for the third roster squad. The group had six to eight practices and participated in the Tournament of Champions in Brandon in February, Braybrook said. The team had 12 skaters and two goalies.
“With having boys on three different teams coming together, we knew it would be a challenge,” Braybrook said. “We tried to find the right chemistry and focused on playing a team-first game while introducing a little bit of structure. As the weekend went along at both tournaments, we really noticed our boys starting to understand the concept we were trying to push.
“There are always habits you can get away with on your regular season team that just doesn’t work at a higher level. We really tried to limit those mistakes and as the tournament went along those were noticeably less and less.”
The roster included Jett Cosens, Carter White, Easton Pitz, Mason Auger, Carter Brown, Colt Cameron, Coleton Koop, Spencer Gompf, Ryker Higginbotham, Avery Braybrook, Noah Wohglemuth, Recklan Gabrielle, Zander Clarke and Liam Banga. Pitz was the head coach with Braybrook, Darin Banga and Shane Auger serving as assistants.