With four local players, the Southwest Cougars are seeking success in the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League.
The Cougars are off to a 3-1-0-2 start. There appears to be a lot of parity in the 13-team league this season.
As of Sunday, only four points separated the league’s top squad, the Yellowhead Chiefs, from the Cougars, who sat in eighth. Five teams, including Southwest, were tied with eight points. (The Cougars are a regional team playing out of Souris.)
“This year’s Cougars squad is a veteran-laden team, featuring eight returning forwards, four returning defencemen and one returning goalie,” head coach Dennis McNish said. “Depth and experience at all three positions will be a strength, as will size and physical strength.”
Virden products Hunter Andrew and Braeden Lewis were tied for second on the team with six points behind Tyson Kozak’s seven.
Andrew, a 6-foot, 165-pound forward in his second year with the team, had six assists in as many games. McNish described Andrew as “a veteran leader with a great combination of size and strength mixed with great puck skills and finish.”
Through six games, Lewis had two goals and four assists. McNish said he is “a first-year midget player with a high-end skill set combined with patience and vision.” Lewis is a 5-foot-11.5, 163-pound forward.
Oak Lake’s Hunter Wallace has scored three goals through six games. The 5-foot-3, 113-pound forward is a “a team spark plug who also brings a 200-foot game and skill to the table,” McNish said.
An injury has kept Virden’s Grady Lane out of action so far this season. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound forward was described by McNish as “a bruising rookie power forward who can score and make the opponent pay for what they get.”
The Westman Wildcats are off to a 3-1 start to the Manitoba Female Midget Hockey League season.
“We are going to be a young and fast team that will play very aggressively in all areas of the ice,” head coach Guy Williams said.
The Hartney-based team does not have any Virden area players this season. In the past, such area products as Karissa Kirkup, Sky Brown, Keisha Robertson, KJ Wallace, Megan Bailey, Erica Hartel, and the Pollock sisters – Brandi, Jasmine, and Kristi-Lyn – played for the team before going on to the post-secondary level.