The Virden Oil Capitals got the 2020 portion of their Manitoba Junior Hockey League season off to a great start.
On Sunday, the Oil Caps beat the Portage Terriers, 5-3, on the road. Thanks in part to three powerplay goals, Virden rallied from a 2-1 first period deficit to prevail against the second-place Terriers. The Oil Capitals improved to 19-14-2-2 and sat sixth in the MJHL, as of Sunday.
“I thought we had a good plan on how to approach that game and our guys stuck to the structure,” Virden head coach Tyson Ramsey said. “We got solid goaltending, we did a good job through the neutral zone and generated a number of good scoring chances. Obviously, our powerplay was hot, and I thought we did a good job on the penalty kill as well.”
In the first period, Hunter Cloutier scored on the powerplay in between Terriers’ markers. Virden opened the second frame with a goal by Tristan Thompson and two by Cloutier – both on powerplays - to take a 4-2 lead.
Cloutier recorded his third hat trick of the season. As of Sunday, he led the Oil Caps with 24 goals and 49 points in 37 games.
“Hunter is a unique guy,” Ramsey said. “He is extremely skilled. His puck handling skills are elite, and his shot is very good. When he is confident in himself and he keeps his feet moving, he is a dangerous guy. He has the ability to make the game go at the pace he wants it to and is dangerous offensively in any situation. He is a real important guy for us and we’re lucky to have him in our lineup.”
Portage cut the deficit to one, 4-3, in the third. Virden answered with an empty net goal by Josh Belcher. Virden goalie Ethan Peterson stopped 29 of the 32 shots he faced. Peterson also earned an assist on the game’s final goal.
It is a busy week for the Oil Capitals. The team is in action four times. As well, the junior hockey world will be buzzing as Friday is the MJHL and national trade deadline.
The Oil Caps were slated to play in Dauphin on Tuesday and start a four-game homestand hosting Swan Valley on Thursday. The Winkler Flyers, including area product Grady Lane, visit on Friday. The Oil Caps host Dauphin on Sunday.