Veteran Blocker uses lessons learned to help Oil Caps

Now in his fifth junior hockey season, Virden Oil Capitals forward Owen Blocker said he has learned three important lessons.

The first is to figure out your role and become the best you can at it. Secondly, the 20-year-old from Oakbank said you need to put maximum effort into everything you do so that you can get the most out of it. Lastly, he said having fun is important.

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Blocker plans to employ these lessons and have fun this season – his second with the Oil Caps – to help his team succeed in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. Oil Caps head coach Tyson Ramsey said that the veteran “is a very important player for our group.”

“He is very physical and makes our team play heavier and he can create space for some of our skilled guys,” the Virden bench boss said. “He is a leader on and off the ice with his work ethic and determination. He shoots the puck extremely well and will be counted on to contribute in a number of different ways.”

This season Blocker will be asked to play various roles. Last season he proved he could chip in offensively. After joining the Oil Caps from the Western Hockey League last season, he had 16 goals and 31 points in 46 games. Through four games this season he has one goal.

The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Blocker has also established himself as a physical presence. Although he was not with the team for the full season in 2019-2020, he placed second on the squad with 147 penalty minutes. So far this season Blocker paces the team with 28 penalty minutes.

“I’ve always been a physical player since hitting started, and over time it’s the role that I suited best to help my team,” he said. “The best part about it is giving our team the energy to flip the momentum in a game as well as asserting my dominance, which leads to turnovers for the opposing team.”

As well as playing a role, Blocker said he has learned to put forth a maximum effort as well as trying to have fun. Over parts of four seasons, Blocker played 159 regular season games in the major junior Western Hockey League. He suited up for the Lethbridge Hurricanes and had two separate stints with the Swift Current Broncos. Especially early on, he found himself battling for a spot in the lineup and ice time.

“In my earlier years, it wasn’t always that easy to have fun because I would be scratched a lot, but at the same time it’s what I needed to realize the amount of effort and focus I needed to play at the certain level,” Blocker said.

Blocker joined the Oil Caps from the Broncos early last season. He is happy to be playing in Virden.

“I’ve really enjoyed the atmosphere around the hockey team here. It’s never hard to get amped up for a game when you have the fans that we do cheering us on,” said Blocker, who is billeting with Murray and Cheryl Foster for a second season.

Entering his first full season with the Oil Caps, Blocker is looking to have a lot of fun and success this campaign. He is pleased to be back after COVID-19 ended last season prematurely and delayed the start of this one.

“I’m really excited just to be back and playing hockey again,” he said. “It helps that we have a team with as much skill as we do. It should make for a fun year.”

© Virden Empire-Advance