The Virden Oil Capitals went into their holiday break on a bit of a disappointing note on Saturday night, but managed to salvage a single point in their shootout loss to the Selkirk Steelers.
Virden looked like they might run away with the game early after Dylan Thiessen buried a power play marker and Carter Cowlthorp followed up with his fourth of the season just 12 seconds later. Momentum was on the Oil Caps side who led 2-0 after the opening frame.
In the second period, Virden got themselves into some penalty trouble which resulted in three Steelers goals to put Virden down 3-2 after 40 minutes. Two of those markers coming from the Steelers captain, Brian Mackenzie.
The Oil Caps bounced back early in the third with Thiessen’s second of the night and 12th of the season on the power play, but it was the Steelers who would restore the one-goal lead just five minutes later to take a 4-3 lead.
With an offensive zone face-off in the final minute, the Oil Caps called a time out and pulled their starter, Cam Pateman, for the extra attacker. After a few broken opportunities, Virden gained control in the Steelers end that resulted in Devan Schram finding Lucas Oliver on the door step, who tied the game at 4-4 with just 17.1 seconds to play.
The required extra period of 4-on-4 overtime resolved nothing and led the teams to a shootout to decide it. After the first three shooters from each side, neither team had a goal to their name. Finally the fifth Steelers shooter, Dexter Kuczek, went down and beat Pateman off the post to give Selkirk the edge. Mack Hardy had to score to keep the Oil Caps’ hopes alive, but couldn’t beat the Steelers net minder, Hayden Dola, who finished the night with 39 saves and picked up the 5-4 victory.
Pateman steered aside 27 of 31 shots he faced on the night who helped the Oil Caps pick up a single point and give Virden a 19-13-5 record heading into the holiday break.
Despite the loss, the Oil Caps are feeling pretty good about their play as of late, heading into the break. After going 6-8-3 to start the season, the Oil Caps have put together a 13-5-2 record in their last 20 games.
A trio of Oil Caps’ 20-year-olds in Soren Frederiksen, Ben Williams, Lucas Oliver along with 19-year-0ld, Devan Schram, are leading the way offensively for Virden with 30 plus points each. Frederiksen and Williams have each joined the 20 goal club on the season who are in a tier with just three other players from the league who have also reached that milestone.
Thiessen, the MJHL’s IBAM Rookie of the Month for November, is making a strong case for himself to repeat in December for the award. With seven points (3 G, 4 A) in eight games for a total of 26 points (12 G, 14 A) on the season, Thiessen now sits just two points back of Steinbach’s, James Shearer, for the rookie scoring lead.
Between the pipes, Sean Kuehn has been as good as anyone in the league over the last couple of months. The 19-year-old Texan is 10-2 in his last 12 starts for the club and was also named the MJHL’s MGEU Goaltender of the Month along with the Oil Caps’ MNP Player of the Month for November.
The Oil Caps’ players are now off until next Sunday, December 28th when they will return to Virden for practice in preparation for their New Year’s Eve matinee game in Portage against the Terriers. That game is slated for a 4:30 start at the Portage Credit Union Centre. The two teams will play a rematch in the new year on Friday, January 2nd in Virden. That game is slated for a 7:30 start.
The January 2nd game is being hosted by Tutthill Construction in Elkhorn. The first 500 fans in attendance will receive a free Tutthill Construction drink koozie. Make sure you arrive early to get in on this promotion.