The Southwest Cougars bantam AAA boys hockey team has a definite local flair this season.
The regional team features Virden products Ty Plaisier, Tyson Andrew, Jack Smith, and affiliated player Ryan Lewis.
Virden’s Tanner Lewis and his father Dale help guide the Cougars as assistant coaches.
“Our team defense has been the strength of our team this season,” head coach Ryan Robson said. “We are very proud of the limited number of goals we have allowed this year and we work very hard to keep the puck out of our net. Our team is full of unselfish and dedicated athletes. We have created a new hockey family in the five short months we have been together.”
Plaisier is an elusive defenceman for the Cougars. He has three goals and six points in 25 Winnipeg AAA Hockey League games.
“He has excellent edges and he can turn on a dime,” Robson said. “He is able to evade forecheckers to help break out of our end. Ty has an enormous compete level. He won't back down to anyone and he goes 100 per cent all of the time. His heart is unmatched.”
A forward, Andrew has a goal and an assist in 25 games this season.
“Tyson's feet never stop moving,” Robson said. “His work ethic and his ‘do anything for the team’ attitude is infectious. … He likes to play physical. Our team depends on Tyson to kill penalties and he often does the dirty work that lots of players are reluctant to do.”
An injury this fall has kept Smith off the ice much of the season for the Cougars. The team is pleased the talented forward returned to the team in the new year. He has recorded one assist in 10 games played.
“Jack has a very high hockey IQ,” Robson said. “He sees the game very well, which helps him get to the right spots on the ice. He is highly skilled and he has great hands. Jack's playmaking ability is through the roof.”
Lewis is a bantam-aged defenceman who suits up for the Cougars as an AP as schedules allow. In five games, he has recorded a total of two assists.
“Ryan is a very solid player,” Robson said. “He does everything well. Ryan appears very calm on the ice. He does not panic in such a fast-paced game. Ryan's first pass is always strong, which is so important as a defenceman.”
The Westman Wildcats bantam AAA female team has a very balanced lineup this season.
“We don't rely on one forward line or one defence pairing to carry the load as it is all spread out throughout the lineup,” said assistant coach Glen Tosh. “We have a fast team both on defence and on offence and both our goalies are strong and have split the load equally so far this year.”
Virden’s Jadyn Hayward serves as an affiliated player for the Wildcats. The defenceman and three others serve as members of the team’s practice roster weekly in Wawanesa.
“She is a first-year player and a very smart young defenceman who looks to have a good chance to make the roster next season,” Tosh said.