In front of a packed house of community fans, sponsors, billets and family members, top player awards were handed out to Virden Oil Capitals players at the MJHL team’s annual awards banquet in Sunrise Banquet Hall at Tundra Oil & Gas Place, Thursday evening, Mar. 1.
Team Director of Business and Operations Jamie Hodson and Head Coach Troy Leslie each spoke of their high hopes for the finals. The team has scored significantly more goals in regular season play over last year’s goals scored.
Team Captains Dylan Thiessen and Morgan Magwood expressed thanks to their fans, family, billets, coaching staff, volunteer assistant equipment manager Gary Remple, and sponsors.
Thiessen a Winnipeg native said, “This town has become a second home to me. I’ve grown up here. I was able to graduate from VCI.”
To his team mates he said, “We all know we have a lot of work ahead of us. This is the best time of the year, coming up. This opportunity doesn’t come every year.”
Karissa Kirkup, sister of Tyler Kirkup, was the keynote speaker.
From her journey as an eight-year-old hockey player, she outlined the demands of the path to college and university level play.
“I had to be ready to go, as an 18-year-old female hockey player, to play at the top level that there was. I saw the big prize as going down south and getting a full ride down there,” she says, referring to a scholarship to play and receive an education in the USA.
“My 15-year-old summer was when I really started to take things seriously.”
Kirkup was working for the Town of Virden that summer and after work, five-days a week, she drove to Brandon for hockey training.
“I had a drive, to get better, every single summer; and I always came back each year stronger than I was the year before.”
She achieved her goal to play while attending an American school on full scholarship to U of Maine where she was second in scoring.
Ultimately Kirkup returned closer to home and in 2015 entered University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. There she handled a full course load plus a rigorous hockey schedule and volunteer work.
Looking ahead for Oil Caps
Kirkup warned the Caps players of what they would face if they chose the University/hockey path, but says, “Looking back, it’s all worth it....”
In this, her final year of the Kinesiology program at U of M, unfortunately she has had to sit-out this hockey season with the Women’s Bison hockey team due to an injury.
Her time and interest has been invested into an anti-bullying program where she is the co-chair of Bisons Against bullying. “This program is by far the one that I ...love to work with the most.” Her co-chair is Virden-born U of M student – Drew Cochrane.
They, along with other volunteer Bisons, address bullying behavior in schools, working mainly with students up to Gr. 7.
Twelve awards were handed out and the graduating players received presentations as well.
It was a stellar night for Virden’s Tyler Kirkup, as a top scoring player. He received: Twin Valley Co-op Three Stars Award; McNeill, Harasymchuk, McConnell Top Scorer; and Fountain Tire Fan Choice Award.
Near the end of the player awards a guest presenter was introduced; Director of Hockey Operations Jamie Hodson invited Chance Toder of Elkhorn to present theVirden Footwear Most Valuable Player award to Tyler Kirkup.
Coach Leslie introduced the Cole Hamblin memorial award which will be presented to the most valuable player in the upcoming playoffs.