Brett Paddock cannot wait to rejoin the Virden Oil Capitals.
“I’m really excited to get back on the ice in the new year,” the Brandon product, who co-captains the Oil Caps with Jack Einarson, said in an interview before Christmas. “This time off has really made me appreciate living and playing in Virden, so I can’t wait to get back.”
With a talented veteran crew and some skilled newcomers, the Virden squad got off to a strong start in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. The Oil Capitals topped the league with an 8-0-1-0 record when the season was put on pause in November. At the Empire-Advance deadline, a return date for the MJHL season had not yet been announced.
“The strong start to the season was obviously very promising,” Paddock said. “I think a lot of our success came from a deep lineup and everybody bonding and coming together as a team.”
The forward definitely played a role in the team’s success. In nine games this season, the 6-foot, 185-pound Paddock had three goals and seven points.
“Brett is the kind of player that takes pride in anything he does and as a result does everything well,” Virden head coach Tyson Ramsey said. “His work ethic is second to none and so his game is a 200-foot one. He defends hard, skates well, shoots the puck well, has the ability to put up points, and is a leader in every sense of the word.”
This is the second season that Paddock, who is in his third and final year, has worn a letter for the Oil Capitals. Ramsey said there are a number of factors that make Paddock a leader.
“First, he is very intelligent,” Ramsey said. “He thinks about what he is doing and always makes a decision based on what is best for the team. Second is his work ethic. He is the hardest working guy consistently on and off the ice. Third, he genuinely cares about his teammates and they understand very quickly that he would do anything for them and his team.
“Finally, he plays an important role in all situations. He kills penalties, plays on the powerplay, he is always on the ice in the last minute of a period or game and he can play and contribute anywhere in your lineup. We are very, very fortunate to have him on our team.”
Over the past six seasons, Paddock has developed his game – and Ramsey has had a front row to see his improvement. Ramsey coached Paddock for three seasons as the bench boss of the U18 AAA Brandon Wheat Kings before joining the Oil Caps as an assistant coach before becoming the head coach.
In his first season with his hometown U18 squad, Paddock had 17 points in 38 games. The next two seasons he increased that total to 31 (40 games) and 74 (46 games), respectively. Paddock played one game with the Oil Caps in his final U18 season. As an 18-year-old rookie in Virden, he put up 26 points in 46 contests. Paddock boosted that to 44 points last season in 50 games.
“Brett, as long as I've known him, has been a tireless worker and came with impeccable character,” Ramsey said. “I think what has developed the most over these last six years is his size and strength. His first year of (U18) AAA, he was very small and slight. He has worked extremely hard since then to get physically strong enough to have confidence in himself as a player. He is almost impossible to knock off the puck and his skating has gotten to the point where he can play the game at a high speed.
“I am very lucky to have watched Brett develop into the player and person he is today. I am very proud to have coached him and will certainly miss him when he moves on after this season.”
Next fall the 20-year-old Paddock plans to switch his focus to his academics. He will attend the University of Manitoba with an interest in sciences. Paddock will be missed by the Oil Caps and their fans - and vice versa.
“There has definitely been a lot of memorable instances that have taken place during my time in Virden. The three years I have spent here will be some of the best years of my life, and there will be so many stories that I will never forget,” he said.
In Virden, Paddock and teammate Garrett Sambrook billet with Ryan, Kelli, Lily and Drayson Potter.
“I could not have asked for better billets,” Paddock said. “They are amazing people.”