Although Dylan Halliday is a rookie, the Virden Oil Capitals forward has felt like a member of the team for a couple years.
“The best part about playing for the Oil Caps is all the great people that are within the organization,” the Brandon product said. “They made me feel very comfortable with everything from when I was drafted to now being part of the team.”
The 2016 fourth-round draft pick has helped the team succeed while adjusting to the Manitoba Junior Hockey League level.
The Oil Caps earned three standings points with a win, an overtime loss, and a regulation loss last week. At the MJHL Christmas break, the team sat fifth in the league standings with a 19-12-2-4 record after a 7-1-1 December.
Halliday has turned heads as a rookie. With 18 points, including nine goals, he is second on the team in first-year scoring to Virden’s own Tanner Andrew, who has 19 points. Halliday had two goals and three points in a November tilt with Swan Valley. From Nov. 30 through Dec. 5, he scored in three straight games.
“His offensive instincts in the offensive zone are extremely good… What you see on a nightly basis from him as far as how he reads the game offensively and what he can do with the puck has our organization very excited… Just a real talent that way,” Virden head coach Troy Leslie said.
The Oil Caps bench boss said the squad is pleased to have Halliday as a 17-year-old. He believes the rookie will develop into a very offensive player.
Halliday said that it has been an adjustment process moving from midget AAA to Junior A. “Just trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t on the ice, but also the commitment with practice every day, weekly workouts, and school has been a lot to take in… It has all been good and positive and all my teammates have been unbelievable to me and have made the process a lot easier.”
Halliday has his own cheering section at Tundra Oil & Gas Place as his family makes it to most home games. He has also enjoyed playing with former Brandon midget AAA Wheat Kings teammates Brett Paddock and Keegan Morrison.
“They’ve been nice having around as we go through the whole process together,” said Halliday, who billets with Sasha Boyd. “They were also great teammates in Brandon as they were vets and I was new on the team. They always treated me with respect and it’s awesome having them here with me as well.”
The team is next in action when it hosts Waywayseecappo on Jan. 3. The Oil Caps then hit the road to play Winkler on Jan. 5 and Winnipeg on Jan. 6.
The Oil Caps saw their eight-game winning streak come to an end, but they still picked up a standings point in a 4-3 overtime road loss to Selkirk on Dec. 18. Virden led 2-0 partway through the second period and 2-1 going into the third. Selkirk outscored the Oil Caps 2-1 in the third period to force overtime. Ryan Sokoloski had the winning goal in the extra session for the Steelers.
Jack Einarson, Hunter Cloutier, and Kolten Kanaski had Virden’s goals. Oil Caps goalie Dalton Dosch turned away 27 of the 31 shots he faced.
On Dec. 20 at TOGP, the Oil Capitals rebounded with a gritty 2-1 home victory over the Winnipeg Blues. McAuley’s Jake Poole, a call-up from the Yellowhead midget AA team, put Virden up 1-0 in the first period.
“It felt really good,” Poole said on the team’s website. “I wasn’t really expecting anything like that, but it was cool to get it.”
The Blues tied things up in the second period, but Blake Sidoni had the game winner for Virden in the third. Oak Lake’s Riley Wallace made 20 saves for the Oil Capitals.
On the road on Dec. 22, Virden led Dauphin 1-0 after the first period. The host Kings scored twice in the third to prevail 2-1. Ben Dalke had Virden’s lone goal on a power play. Dosch made 26 saves. The game was Dalke’s 200th with the team.
“It’s a very special moment for me, especially to play all 200 here with Virden,” Dalke said on the team’s website. “I’m honoured to be in the same company as a couple of my good friends Mack Hardy, Dylan Thiessen and Devan Schram.”