Last week was a good one for Josh Belcher and the Virden Oil Capitals.
The second-year forward from Rapid City racked up three goals and six points in three games. His efforts helped the Oil Capitals win all three of their contests. As of Sunday, the team was on a five-game winning streak and was 6-1 in November. After last week’s success, the Oil Caps improved to 9-9-1-4 on the season.
“It is matter of consistency and we have had some good goaltending as of late. … We have been pretty good since we acquired Blake Sidoni,” said head coach Troy Leslie, who emphasized the 20-year-old forward has brought grittiness and improved the depth up front.
Belcher, a 17-year-old forward is having a good second season. The 6-foot-2, 186-pounder had two assists last week in a win over Steinbach, a goal on Saturday against OCN, and two goals and an assist on Sunday in a rematch with the Blizzard.
“He is a big guy. He skates extremely well,” said Leslie, who also emphasized, “Once he starts moving his feet, he is pretty hard to stop.”
Last week’s offensive outburst raised Belcher’s season totals to five goals and 12 points in 19 games, as of Sunday. He has already surpassed the nine points he posted last season. Even before his recent strong week, he had impressed the Oil Caps brass with his play.
“Josh Belcher’s game has taken another step. He maybe doesn’t have a ton of points to show for it, but he plays a solid, heady game,” Jamie Hodson, the team’s director of business and hockey operations, said earlier in November.
As a rookie, Belcher made the jump from the midget AAA Yellowhead Chiefs and found a role on an Oil Caps team that made it to the MJHL finals.
“Last season the biggest adjustment for me moving from AAA to the MJHL was just the speed was a lot faster and the players were bigger,” he said.
Belcher, who billets with Alana and Clifford Whittle, has been having fun with the Oil Capitals.
“There’s lots to enjoy about playing in Virden - the small town, the great billets, the great fans and the organization is great, too,” he said.
The busy Oil Capitals have four games this week. They were on the road to play OCN for the third straight time on Tuesday and took on Swan Valley on Wednesday.
This weekend the team hosts Steinbach on Friday and Selkirk on Saturday.
Kolten Kanaski’s seven points in three games earned him the Recycle Everywhere MJHL Player of the Week honours. The 19-year-old from Beausejour had two goals and five assists last week. As of Sunday, he led Virden with 13 goals and 25 points in 19 games.
Oil Caps 5, Pistons 3
The Steinbach Pistons took a 2-0 first period lead on Nov. 15, but the Oil Caps battled back to tie up the game 2-2 by the second intermission. In the third, Virden outscored Steinbach 3-1 to secure the victory.
“To our guys’ credit, they stuck with it,” Leslie said. “I thought we might have had our best second period of the year as far as our compete level.”
The Oil Caps were 2-for-5 on the power play. Kanaski, Brett Paddock, and Virden’s own Tristen Cross all had a goal and assists for the Oil Capitals. McCullough Park and Hunter Cloutier also scored for Virden. Belcher and Sidoni had two assists each. Dalton Dosch made 30 saves for Virden, which had 29 shots on goal.
Oil Caps 7, Blizzard 4
With 764 cheering them on, the Oil Capitals scored three goals in the first and the third periods to down OCN on Nov. 17. Captain Ben Dalke had two goals, while Park, Belcher, Paddock, Dylan Halliday, and Kanaski also scored. Dalke and Kanaski each had three points. Dosch had 25 saves.
Oil Caps 7, Blizzard 4
For the second straight night, Virden downed OCN, 7-4. On Sunday, 775 at the Tundra Oil & Gas Place watched hometown product Tanner Andrew score two goals and record four points. Belcher and Sidoni also had two goals each. Jack Einarson had Virden’s other goal.
Oak Lake’s Riley Wallace made 34 saves in the victory for the Oil Capitals. Leslie said it was good to see his team score 14 goals in two games against OCN and to see a number of players scoring.