The Virden Oil Capitals have been strong on the ice in their last 20 games.
“We are starting to see the team we felt like we were going to be,” said Jamie Hodson, the Oil Capitals’ director of business and hockey operations.
After going to the Manitoba Junior Hockey League finals last season, the team had several key players age out of Junior A, leave early for university, or depart for the Western Hockey League. The Oil Capitals started the season with a young, rookie-laden squad that also featured returning players stepping into bigger roles. The club went 6-9-1-4 in its first 20 games, with bounces often not going its way.
In the second third of the season, the Oil Capitals got rolling. They posted a 14-5-1-0 record. The Capitals had an eight-game winning streak that started in November and lasted deep into their December schedule.
“At the end of day, we are excited about where our club is today and we expect even better in our next 20,” Hodson said.
As of Sunday, Virden had a 20-14-2-4 record and sat fifth in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. Last week the Oil Caps had one win and two losses.
“We had a good game against Waywayseecappo … Then we went on the road and played two teams hungry to move up in the standings. … We have to find a way to elevate our game even more now,” head coach Troy Leslie said.
Hodson praised the development of the players and the leadership provided by the coaching staff and the veterans.
He said the team was open to listen to offers around the Jan. 10 trade deadline, but the Oil Caps like their roster. With 21 players, the team was in a position to possibly add a player without subtracting.
The Oil Caps have two games this week. On Tuesday, they lost to Swan Valley 4-3 in OT, kicking off a four-game home stand. On Friday, the OCN Blizzard visit followed by a break until next Friday.
Parker Brakebill was named the MJHL’s Manitoba Pork Peak Performer for December. The honour recognizes his service to the community. The Yorba Linda, Calif. product helps coach a Virden novice hockey team. As well, he has helped repair outdoor rinks, participated in Terry Fox Runs in Virden and Oak Lake, and volunteered two days with Habitat for Humanity, among other efforts.
Also recognized in the league’s awards for December were Dalton Dosh and Virden’s own Tanner Andrew, a runner-up for the IBAM-MJHL Rookie of the Month. Dosch, who is from Willow Bunch, was a runner-up for the MGEU-MJHL Goaltender of the Month.Showcase Rosters
Oil Capitals highlight two of the rosters released by the MJHL last week for the joint showcase with the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. The event, which runs Jan. 14-15 in Regina, features three teams from each league organized by age group. The showcase is an opportunity for players from both leagues to be seen by scouts from various levels.
Leslie will coach Team Garbutt-Black. The squad will include Jack Einarson, Josh Belcher, Hunter Cloutier. Team Belfour–Red is packed with Oil Caps: Tristen Cross, Jayden Wojciechowski, Blake Sidoni, Kolten Kanaski, and Ben Dalke.
Oil Caps 3, Wolverines 2
The Oil Capitals kicked off 2019 with a 3-2 win over the Waywayseecappo Wolverines in front of 1,163 fans at Tundra Oil & Gas Place. Moosomin’s Austin Johnson scored his first MJHL goal to get Virden on the board in the first period. In the second session, the Oil Caps went up 2-0 on a Kanaski marker. Waywayseecappo got one goal back before the third period. In the final session, Cloutier scored before the Wolverines answered.
Virden was solid on the penalty kill as it killed off five of Wayway’s six power-play opportunities. Dosch stopped 24 of the 26 shots he faced. Isaac Labelle made 35 saves for Waywayseecappo.
Flyers 4, Oil Caps 2
The Oil Caps fell 4-2 on the road in Winkler on Jan. 5. The host Flyers led 2-1 and 4-2 at the intermissions. Cross, a Virden product, had a goal and an assist for the Oil Caps. Halliday also scored for Virden. Dosch had 29 saves, while Winkler’s Britt League had 35.
Blues 6, Oil Caps 2
On Jan. 6 on the road, the Oil Capitals fell behind early and were unable to rally. The Winnipeg Blues led 1-0 and 3-0 at the intermissions en route to a 6-2 victory. Halliday and Brett Paddock each had a goal and an assist. Halliday scored for the second straight day. Andrew had two assists for the Oil Caps.
Oak Lake’s Riley Wallace started and had 16 saves for Virden. Dosch made 17 saves in relief. Winnipeg’s Jeremy Link had 28 saves.