It doesn’t matter which position he plays – Brayden Pawluk just wants to be out on the ice helping the Virden Oil Capitals.
The second-year player has been used at both forward and defence for the team this season, sometimes both in the same game.
“I like being able to help the team playing both forward and defence,” the Teulon product said. “They both go hand in hand for me and I really don’t have a preference of which position I play. Wherever I am needed most is where I’m willing to play.”
The Oil Capitals have been on a roll as of late. After going 3-0 last week, the squad had a five-game winning streak headed into the MJHL Showcase in Winnipeg on Tuesday. That success improved the Oil Caps’ record to 15-11-1-4 as of Sunday.
“I think we got a lot of things going for us right now,” Virden head coach Troy Leslie said. “Our power play has been really good. Both units have been scoring. I think our goaltending has been extremely good. … A lot of our young players are getting more confident.”
The Oil Capitals came from behind in two games last week. Leslie said that now if the team is down, the players are not deflated and believe they can rally and this was not necessarily the case earlier in the season.
Leslie praised the leadership of the veteran players for helping in this process. He said leadership from players like Ben Dalke, Kolten Kanaski, Brock Shwaluk, Tristen Cross, and Jayden Wojciechowski is a big reason for the team’s turnaround from a 2-5-1-4 start.
“Sense of community”
“The best part about playing for the Caps last year and this year is just the overall sense of community you get from playing in Virden and the support,” he said. “Last season we had incredible community support all throughout the year - especially in playoffs when the town all cheered for our bus as we left for Steinbach. That is a memory that will stay with me for the rest of my life.”
Pawluk billets with Dave and Lynnette Jordan. “Their house is truly my home away from home. They both do so much for me. I will always be very grateful to have them as billets.”
On the ice this season the 6-foot-1, 198-pounder has two goals and three points. Leslie said Pawluk knows what his role is and accepts it, and Pawluk has been really solid in both of his positions.
Pawluk played forward for most of his career. He was listed by Virden as a forward in his first midget season. While playing a season of prep hockey in Connecticut, he was moved to the blueline. Last season Pawluk played both spots for the Oil Caps. Lately he has been used more on defence.
The team hosts Winkler on Friday night for Pack the House Night with the Virden Autobody Teddy Bear Toss and Valleyview Co-Op Tin for the Bin night. Farmery Brewery is the game day host.
On Tuesday, the Oil Caps doubled the Winkler Flyers 4-2 and played Steinbach on Wednesday after press deadline.
Oil Caps second-year forward Jack Einarson was one of the runners-up for the Recycle Everywhere MJHL Player of the Week for his six-point performance over three games.
Teammate Dalton Dosch was named the League’s MGEU Goaltender of the Month for November. He was 7-3 with a 2.48 goals against average, a .923 save percentage, and a shutout during the 11th month.
Kanaski was tabbed as a runner-up RBC Player of the Month for November. Kanaski was named the Oil Caps Virden and Reston Drugs Player of the Month. He had nine goals and seven assists during 12 games.
Oil Caps 6, Steelers 4
The Oil Capitals trailed 1-0 in the first period and 3-0 with eight minutes gone in the second period at home on Dec. 4 against Selkirk. The Oil Caps then got rolling. They reeled four straight goals en route to a 6-4 victory.
Einarson led the way with two goals and four points. Hunter Cloutier recorded two goals and three points. Also scoring for Virden were Dylan Halliday and Josh Belcher, who had three points. Dosch made 27 saves on 31 shots. Virden had 35 shots on goal and had an empty-net marker.
Oil Caps 5, Terriers 3
Halliday and Cloutier each lit the lamp in the second period to put the Oil Capitals on top for good on Dec. 5 on the road. The game was 2-2 after the first period in Portage. After the two-goal second period by Virden, the teams traded goals in the third as the Oil Caps prevailed 5-3.
Tanner Andrew, Blake Sidoni and Kanaski also scored for Virden. Dosch had 24 saves. Leslie noted that the Virden power play has clicked the past couple of years in Portage and it did again last week.
“That is what got us back in the game probably won it for us,” said the coach, whose team was two-for-four with the man advantage.
Oil Caps 3, Natives 1
After a 1-1 first period, the Oil Capitals scored twice in the second en route to a 3-1 road victory on Dec. 7 in Neepawa. Andrew, Tristan Thompson, and Kanaski did the scoring for Virden. Dosch turned away 32 shots. Leslie said it was a good effort for the Oil Caps all game.