Tyler Kirkup’s hard work both on and off the ice with the Virden Oil Capitals has earned him a Division I scholarship.
The Virden product and team MVP during the regular season with the Oil Caps has accepted a scholarship with the Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s Bemidji State Beavers men’s hockey program, beginning next season.
“I’m really excited,” Kirkup said. “I’ve been working for this for a while now.”
Kirkup’s familiarity with Bemidji State University stemmed all the way back to when his sister Karissa, an accomplished hockey player herself, toured the campus during a recruiting visit several years ago.
“I went on the tour with her and I just thought it was an unbelievable school and really ever since then I’ve just kind of wanted to go there. It’s really a dream come true.”
Jamie Hodson, director of business and hockey operations for the Oil Caps, says the entire organization couldn’t be happier for Tyler.
“He’s very deserving of this and has worked extremely hard towards his goal of getting a D-1 scholarship. He’s such a good individual that you just want him to achieve everything positive that comes his way. This is all on Tyler, we’ve just been along for the ride. The organization and the MJHL benefit from individuals like Tyler who carry the flag for their organizations so well such as Tyler has done for us both on and off the ice.”
Since he began his full-time tenure in Virden back in 2015-2016, Kirkup’s continued development on the ice is evident. After a 10-goal, 33-point rookie campaign, Kirkup’s goal production nearly doubled (17 goals) a year later. This year, Kirkup has really blossomed into a top flight offensive force in the MJHL.
During the regular season, he netted 40 goals and 75 points in 60 games.
“When Tyler arrived as a 17-year-old, his aggressive play and his work along the wall allowed him to contribute right away,” said Oil Caps head coach and GM Troy Leslie. “Over the past three years, Tyler has established himself as a very offensive player in our league. He’s an extremely well-rounded player so it’s not a surprise he’s earned a scholarship. He’s a hardworking player who is very well-respected by his teammates.”
Kirkup credits time spent in the gym and dedication to his craft as big reasons for why he’s been able to develop into the player he is today.
“I’ve worked really hard and I’ve gotten bigger and stronger and that’s really helped me on the ice to really just be more dominant and help me play more minutes.”
Off the ice, Kirkup does his best to represent the Oil Caps organization to the highest of standards – and that includes his community involvement.
“I love helping the kids out,” he said with a smile. “It’s nice especially after the games when all the kids come out and skate with us. It’s something I’ve really enjoyed and it’s awesome to see all the kids smiling and having a great time. It’s just nice that we can do that.”
Bemidji State University is located on the shores of Lake Bemidji in Minnesota. The men’s hockey program, which has been running for 60 years, has won 13 national championships since its inception.
On behalf of everyone within the Oil Caps organization, we’d like to congratulate Tyler on his scholarship to Bemidji State and wish him nothing but the best after this season!