The Virden Oil Capitals battled, but were unable to secure a victory during the opening weekend of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League season.
The Oil Capitals fell 4-2 on Saturday on the road to the Dauphin Kings in their season opener. The next night, in front of 1,165 fans at the Tundra Oil & Gas Place, the team lost 2-1 in a shootout. That earned them a point in the MJHL standings.
“I thought we played five pretty good periods,” Virden head coach Troy Leslie said. “I think the second period in Dauphin really hurt us in that game. I thought we played a really good game on Sunday. We ran into a hot goaltender and sometimes that happens.”
This year’s squad combines many new, young players with veterans from the 2017-2018 edition that made it to the MJHL finals.
“With a young team, you can see the growth happen pretty fast,” Leslie said. “We have seen that in the exhibition and (the start of the season). It is good to see their confidence grow and to see them get better.”
In front of a strong home crowd on Sunday, the Oil Capitals got things started with a moment of silence for the Humboldt Broncos Junior A organization in remembrance of the April 6 bus crash tragedy. Neither team scored in the first period. Dauphin’s Marc-Antoine Couture got his squad on the board in the second frame.
Just before the midway point in the third period, the Kings took a penalty. Kolten Kanaski made them pay with a power-play goal to tie things up.
Virden goalie Dalton Dosch and the Oil Caps defence killed off a late Kings’ power play and kept the opponents off the board in overtime. Dauphin’s Nakodan Greyeyes was the only player out of 10 shooters to score in the shootout, bringing home the winner.
Dosch made 28 saves in regulation and overtime. His Kings counterpart, Brennan Kitchen, had 45.
The Oil Capitals hosted the Swan Valley Stampeders on Tuesday. On Saturday, they play in Waywayseecappo and on Tuesday are at Swan Valley. The next home game for Virden is Oct. 4 against Waywayseecappo.
Shortly before the season started Garrett Sambrook rejoined the Oil Capitals. The 18-year-old defenceman from Medora was in camp with the Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings.
Sambrook split last season between the Oil Caps and the Wheat Kings. He helped Virden make it to the MJHL finals.
Meanwhile, the Oil Capitals added 20-year-old forward Mason Fischer from the Dauphin Kings. “Mason adds some veteran depth to our front end. … He can play in many different situations, offensively and defensively, and compliments our group well,” head coach Troy Leslie said.
Fischer had five goals and 15 points in 38 games for Dauphin last season. Also during that campaign, he suited up for Junior A teams in Kindersley and Bonnyville.
TheOil Capitals have selected their captains for this season. Ben Dalke, a 20-year-old forward from LaSalle in his fourth season with the club, is wearing the “C”.
“Ben is a great role model for our players and is respected right through our organization,” Leslie said on the team’s website. “He comes to the rink everyday with the right mindset to be prepared to work and play the right way. He is highly respected in our dressing room.”
Virden’s own Tristen Cross, a 20-year-old, third-year defenceman, and Kanaski, a 19-year-old forward from Beausejour in his third season, will be assistant captains. As well, an “A” will alternate between 19-year-old, second-year blue liner Jayden Wojciechowski, who hails from Thunder Bay, and 20-year-old defenceman Brock Shwaluk, a LaSalle product in his first season in Virden.