After going 1-2 last week, the Virden Oil Capitals are seeking success in a pair of games this weekend.
Following seven Oil Caps playing in Tuesday and Wednesday’s Manitoba Junior Hockey League-Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League Showcase in Regina, the squad hosts Neepawa (8-32-1-3, as of Monday) on Friday. On Sunday, the Oil Caps are in Winkler to take on the second place Flyers (28-10-2-3). With a win and two losses last week, the Oil Caps had a 23-17-2-2 record. They sat fifth in the league.
On Jan. 16, the Oil Caps found themselves trailing Winkler, 4-1, in the first period in front of 702 at the Tundra Oil & Gas Place. The squad rallied with two goals in the second period to make it 4-3. In the third period, Winkler increased its lead to two, 5-3. The Oil Caps scored again but could not equalize and fell 5-4.
Of the game, Virden head coach Tyson Ramsey said, “We were slow out of the gate, but I thought we did some real good things in the second half of the game but came up short. Tough to go down 4-1 and battle back in this league.”
Scoring for Virden were Owen Blocker, Darren Gisti, Hunter Cloutier, and Josh Belcher. Jayden Wojciechowski had four assists, while Belcher recorded three points.
After a scoreless first period on Jan. 17, the Oil Caps outscored the host Winnipeg Blues 2-1 in both the second and third sessions en route to a 4-2 victory. Jack Einarson, Tristan Thompson, Cloutier, and Kolten Kanaski all scored for Virden. Oil Caps goalie Ethan Peterson made 29 saves on 31 shots. Defenceman Logan Rands recorded three assists.
“Against Winnipeg, I thought we stuck to our structure and were able to find a way against a fast team that works extremely hard,” Ramsey said.
After leading 1-0 in the first period, the MJHL-leading Steinbach Pistons outscored the visiting Oil Caps, 3-1 in the second, to take a 4-1 lead on Jan. 18. Steinbach went on to win 6-2. Thompson and Cloutier had Virden’s goals.
“On Saturday in Steinbach, we just weren’t where we need to be in terms of speed and work ethic to compete with the top team in the league,” Ramsey said. “We had our eyes opened a little bit and will use that as motivation to get better and get ready for some big games this week.”
Oil Caps Notes
Wojciechowski was picked as one of the MJHL Recycle Everywhere Stars of the Week. The defenceman had five assists last week. …Cloutier was named the Cochrane Stock Farms Oil Capitals Player of the Month for December. He had four goals and 10 points in seven games. That included a hat trick in a win over Steinbach. … On behalf of Oil Capitals RBC Community Ambassador Jackson Orr, RBC is making a $1,000 donation to the Fort La Bosse School Division for a division-wide or local school project or program. … The Oil Caps and Virden Minor Hockey will be holding the first annual Virden Minor Hockey Day on Feb. 1. A day of games by local minor hockey teams and the Southwest Cougars U18 and bantam AAA squads will be finished off by the Oil Caps versus Portage. The Junior A squad will wear vintage Virden Minor Hockey jerseys, which will be auctioned off after the game as a fundraiser for the club and Virden Minor Hockey.