A third of the way into the season, the Virden Oil Capitals are looking for consistency.
The team was 7-10-1-2 through the first 20 games. At that time, the Oil Caps – who were the first team to reach 20 games – sat ninth in the 11-team league. The squad had posted league highs of 71 goals for and 85 goals against.
“I think if you look at our first 20 games, the thing that stands out the most is our inconsistency,” Virden head coach Tyson Ramsey said. “We have been very good in parts and then not so good in parts and sometimes that can change in game and so that is something that we are striving to improve moving forward.”
That consistency might be developing quickly. The Oil Caps have had a strong start to the second third of the campaign (details below).
A third of the way through the season, captain Kolten Kanaski led the team with 13 goals and 24 points. Hunter Cloutier was second in scoring with 23 points and led the team with 14 assists.
Virden’s own Tanner Andrew rounded out the top three scorers with 19 points and was second with 12 goals. Josh Belcher was fourth with 15 points. Jayden Wojciechowski was fifth on the Oil Caps overall and first in team defencemen scoring with 14. He was second on the team with 13 assists.
Virden product Hunter Andrew was the team’s top scoring rookie with nine points. Oak Lake’s Riley Wallace was the team’s top active goaltender. He had a 4.33 goals against average and a .870 save percentage.
The Virden Oil Capitals were rolling last week.
The team won three straight games. As of Sunday, it had a 10-10-1-2 record and had jumped up to seventh in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League standings.
Jack Einarson was rewarded for his role in Virden’s success. The forward was named one of the MJHL’s Recycle Everywhere Stars of the Week after racking up seven points, including one goal, in three games.
Oil Caps 6, Blues 3
In Winnipeg on Nov. 5, the Oil Caps clung to a 4-3 lead after the Blues scored in the third period. Josh Belcher’s shorthanded marker gave the team some breathing room en route to a 6-3 victory.
After Virden won the draw in its own zone, defenceman Logan Rands shot the puck down the ice. Belcher put pressure on Winnipeg’s netminder and defenceman.
“There was a missed communication between the two and I got the puck and had a pretty open net to put it in,” he said.
Also scoring for Virden were Bray Rookes, Tanner Andrew, Einarson, Hunter Andrew, and Kolten Kanaski.
Goalie Kyle Kozma picked up his first win with the Oil Caps with 23 saves.
Oil Caps 5, Natives 4
Last Friday night, the Oil Caps trailed 2-1 in the first period in Neepawa. But with two more goals in that frame and two in the second, they took and then hung on to the lead for a 5-4 win.
Cloutier led Virden with two goals. Nolan Dawson, Tristan Thompson, and Kanaski also lit the lamp. Riley Wallace of Oak Lake made 20 saves for the Oil Caps.
Oil Caps 9, Blues 2
At home, Virden had the visiting Blues seeing red last Saturday. The Oil Caps held leads of 3-1 and 8-2 at the intermissions as they scored, scored, and scored some more.
“On Saturday, I thought the biggest asset for us as a group was our team speed,” Ramsey said. “We were fast through the neutral zone and made an effort to put pucks behind their defence and on goal. It was a real good effort by all 20 guys.”
Cloutier netted a hat trick. Belcher and Brett Paddock each scored twice. Dylan Halliday and Owen Blocker had a goal each for the Oil Caps. Kozma had 22 saves.