In big trade news last week, the Virden Oil Capitals swapped a speedy homegrown product for a skilled forward from Winnipeg.
Hunter Andrew is headed to the British Columbia Hockey League’s Powell River Kings after two seasons with his hometown Oil Capitals. In return, Virden’s Manitoba Junior Hockey League squad receives Braden Fischer, a Winnipegger and ex-MJHLer who spent last season with the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks. The Oil Caps have also added Ken Schneider to its coaching staff.
The son of Brock and Andrea Andrew had three goals and an assist in seven games last season for the league-leading Oil Caps. After the MJHL campaign was paused and then cancelled, he headed to North Carolina. Andrew and Oil Caps commit Dexter Whittle helped the Charlotte Rush win the United States Premier Hockey League’s Premier Division national championship.
“Hunter will be a big addition to our forward group,” Kings general manager Chad van Diemen said on the team’s website. “He is a very competitive player who is difficult to play against and can make the best of tough on-ice situations. He will make us better and harder to play against, which was a goal of ours as we look ahead to next season.”
The 5-foot-11, 167-pound Andrew is looking forward to the next step in his hockey career.
“I’m really excited to get the opportunity to play and live in BC for the winter,” Andrew said. “Getting to play hockey while living in the mountains is something I’m really looking forward to.”
The 2002-born 18-year-old forward enjoyed his time playing for his hometown team. He earned the team’s top rookie award after posting 13 goals and 30 points in 59 games in 2019-2020.
“One thing I really loved about playing for Virden is getting to play in front of family and friends every night and getting to experience junior hockey from home was a really great experience too,” he said.
Andrew requested a trade to the BCHL he said, “in hopes of getting a scholarship to further my hockey career while also getting the experience of playing away from home.”
Last season his older brother, Tanner, suited up for the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs after starting the season with the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers following a trade from the Oil Caps. During his time with the Virden team Tanner earned an NCAA Division I scholarship to New York state’s Rochester Institute of Technology.
On the Oil Caps website, head coach Tyson Ramsey said the squad was pleased to add a player of Fischer’s calibre. The 6-foot, 179-pounder had a goal and an assist in 16 games for Salmon Arm in 2020-2021 after posting 19 goals and 45 points in 58 games as a rookie for the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues the season before.
“Braden is a proven player in our league,” said Ramsey, on the team website, of the 2002-born 18-year-old. “He will be relied upon to replace some of the offence we lost with our 20-year-old forwards moving on and to top it off, he is a great kid. He is familiar to some of our players, and he is very excited to be an Oil Cap. We can’t wait to get him to Virden and get him on the ice.”
Before playing junior hockey, Fischer spent a season at Winnipeg’s the Rink Hockey Academy. He had 30 points in as many games. Fischer previously played in the Winnipeg Monarchs system. One of his teammates in his final U17 AAA season there was Oil Capitals forward Tyler Thoendel.
A former junior A, Brandon Wheat Kings, and Brandon University player, Schneider has coached at a variety of levels of hockey. Among other accomplishments, he guided the Ile-des-Chenes North Stars to a prestigious 2003 Allan Cup national senior hockey championship, coached the 2019 Brandon U18 AAA Wheat Kings to a provincial championship, and scouted for the Western Hockey League’s Regina Pats.
“We are very proud to add Ken and the wealth of knowledge he brings to the game of hockey to our organization,” Ramsey said on the Oil Caps website. “Ken and I spent time together in the AAA Wheat King organization and I learned so much from him. He is extremely passionate about the game and his values are completely in line with what our organization feels is important for our players and our organization as a whole. We are very lucky to have someone like Ken join our group. He has been a mentor to me, and I can’t wait to work with him again. He will really compliment a staff that I really enjoy working with and our players will be lucky to learn from him in so many different ways.”
On the Virden franchise’s website, Schneider said he is excited to join the Oil Capitals.
“I am joining a team of professional people from the front office right through the organization,” he said. “There certainly is familiarity when it comes to the scouting staff, and of course Tyson who I have had the privilege of coaching with in the past. I look forward to embracing the team and the community of Virden and see this as a great opportunity to experience junior hockey from a coaching perspective.”
Led by Ramsey, the Oil Capitals coaching staff includes assistant coaches Reid Gow, Brett Braybrook, and Derek Leblanc, and goaltending coach Ryan Potter.