Virden Oil Capitals 20-year-old Brock Shwaluk embraces his role as a shutdown defenceman.
“I enjoy the physical side of the game and I take pride in winning battles in the D-zone,” said the LaSalle product.
The 6-foot-1, 209-pounder had two assists and 35 penalty minutes in 14 games, as of Monday, for the Oil Capitals, who went 0-2 last week and were 2-7-1-4.
“He is a big guy,” Virden head coach Troy Leslie said. “He can play physical. He has a good stick.”
Shwaluk joined the team via a trade in the offseason. Last season he suited up for the Kindersley Klippers of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. In his first two junior campaigns, Shwaluk played for the Winnipeg Blues.
“He gives us a bit of experience on the blue line and some leadership as well,” said Leslie of Shwaluk, who is an alternate captain. “He works hard … and he is a positive guy in the room.”
Shwaluk hopes to earn a college scholarship to pursue a business degree. He currently billets in the Hargrave area with Cathy and Greg Tough, along with 20-year-old teammate Mason Fischer. When asked about what he is enjoying most so far this season, Shwaluk said:
“Playing with my long-time best friend Ben Dalke for the first time in four years. It’s pretty special to play my last year of junior with him. Also, the great crowds we play in front of every home game.”
The Oil Caps were slated to play in Selkirk on Tuesday and host Neepawa on Wednesday for the Halloween Face-Off game. This weekend the Winkler Flyers visit on Saturday and the Oil Caps play in Steinbach on Sunday. On Nov. 8, the Dauphin Kings are in town.
Virden has picked up 20-year-old forward Blake Sidoni from his hometown Trail Smoke Eaters of the B.C. Hockey League. He had three points in 15 games this season. Team management praised his character, the depth he will help provide, and the playoff experience he acquired in the Junior B ranks. … The Oil Capitals participated in a team building activity at the Wallace District Fire Department’s training site last week.
On Oct. 23, the Swan Valley Stampeders used a three-goal third-period, including an empty-net marker, to slip by the Oil Capitals, 3-2. Neither team scored until Virden’s Ben Dalke netted his fourth of the season early in the second period on a power play in front of 703 fans at the Tundra Oil & Gas Place. The Stamps tied the game with 2:21 played in the third and took the lead nine second later. They added a shorthanded empty net goal in the final minute.
“It was one of our better games of the year as far as competing with a good team,” said Leslie, who noted his squad did a good job of shutting down the Stampeders.
Virden goalie Dalton Dosch stopped 26 of the 28 shots he faced. Michael Davis made 29 saves for Swan Valley.
In Gimli, the Oil Capitals fell to the Selkirk Steelers, 2-1. After a scoreless first period, Virden got on the board when Kolten Kanaski scored his team-high seventh goal of the season. The Steelers responded with a pair of goals before the end of the period to take the lead. Neither team was able to score in the third period.
Dosch fended off 32 of Selkirk’s 34 shots. Steelers netminder Levi Hunter had 32 saves. The Oil Capitals were zero-for-three on the power play.
“We get a power play goal and we give ourselves a chance to win,” said Leslie, who emphasized that the Oil Caps have usually been good with the man advantage and in general need to be stronger five-on-five and to score more often.
While it was a Steelers’ home game, it was a homecoming of sorts for Jack Einarson and Brayden Pawluk. Einarson is from Gimli and Pawluk hails from nearby Teulon.