Virden product Tanner Andrew takes a lot of pride in playing for the Oil Capitals.
“It’s a real honour and privilege to play for my hometown team,” the son of Brock and Andrea Andrew said. “It’s exciting to play in front of family and friends every night and it is lots of fun.”
Entering this week’s action, the 18-year-old forward led the Manitoba Junior Hockey League team’s first-year players in scoring. Through 34 games, the 5-foot-9, 158-pounder had 19 points, which placed him eighth on the Oil Capitals.
“He is progressing quite nicely. He works very hard on his game. … In the last few weeks, he has really come on,” Virden head coach Troy Leslie said before Christmas. “He looks more confident all the time.”
Andrew scored two goals and recorded four points against OCN on Nov. 18. In his last nine games before the MJHL Christmas break, he had seven points. On the season, Andrew scored 10 goals. When asked about his success, he said:
“Our team is a pretty close group which makes it easy to play with anyone I’m matched with. I like to bring a fast ‘push the pace’ kind of offence to the team.”
Leslie said the youngster’s “skating ability is what is allowing him to be an everyday player. If he gets the puck in the right spots, he has the ability to score.”
He noted that the local product has been utilized on the penalty kill and power play, and that Andrew is a reflection of the Oil Caps’ other young players.
“They are becoming more confident and adjusting to the league.”
Andrew got a head start on his rookie year by playing 15 games early last season as a 17-year-old with the veteran-laden Oil Caps team that went to the MJHL finals. He had two points and an assist during his stint with the team.
“I think it helped me to prepare for what was to come and really allowed me to get used to the speed and pace of this league,” Andrew said.
After his time with the Oil Caps last season, he returned to the Southwest Cougars midget AAA. He put up an impressive 34 points, including 12 goals in 28 games.
“He was able to go back to Southwest and obviously play a big role leadership-wise and get the ice time he needed,” Leslie said.
Throughout his hockey career, Andrew has been encouraged by his parents.
“They have done everything for me in my career and supported me through everything and that’s the reason I am the player and person I am today,” said Andrew, whose brother, Hunter, is an Oil Capitals prospect.
His late grandfather, Richard Murphy, had a big impact on his hockey career and was always there for him. “He would always be the one to tell me I played good even when I didn’t and I leaned on him lots in tough times going through slumps or injuries,” he said.