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Oil Caps future continues to shine bright

By: Lanny Stewart

Three new players – Paddock, Andrew, Wallace – sign deals to become Oil Caps.

As is the case every year in junior hockey, change is inevitable for every organization roster-wise.

Some players graduate and move on to continue their hockey careers in some form or fashion. Some players, after graduation, decide to enter the workforce.

Long story short: each season is different; each with its own set of challenges, each with a revised roster filled with returnees and some new faces to boot.

Case in point: The Virden Oil Capitals.

The junior A club is coming off a season to remember in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. After finishing second in the standings during the regular season, the club wound up advancing to the championship final, eventually falling in six games to the Steinbach Pistons.

Several players from that team have since moved on, leaving holes to fill on next year’s Oil Caps roster.

Some of those holes will be filled by three promising young players from the Westman area who recently signed deals to join the club for next season in forwards Brett Paddock, Tanner Andrew and goaltender Riley Wallace.

Paddock, 18, was added to the Oil Caps 50-man protected list following the 2015 MJHL Draft. The Brandon product, who spent last year with the AAA Midget Wheat Kings, can’t wait for next season to begin.

“It’s been a goal of mine to play with the Caps since I was listed after the draft,” said Paddock, who did dress for one Oil Caps regular season game last season.

Troy Leslie and Brett Paddock

Listed at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, Paddock considers himself to be more of a puck moving forward, continually looking for ways to push the pace

“I like to be the first man on the puck,” he said. “Next year I’m going to give everything I have and I’m hoping to work my way into some kind of leadership role in the future – and obviously I’m going to contribute as much to the team offensively and defensively as I can.”

Paddock is a distant relative to John Paddock, head coach and GM of the Regina Pats and Brandon University athletic director Russ Paddock. He finished last season with 22 goals and 52 assists for 74 points in 46 games.

Oil Caps management describes Paddock as a leader “through and through.”

“He was the captain of the AAA Midget Wheat Kings last year and he led their group in more ways than one as the club advanced to the AAA midget final last season.  An upstanding young man who will be a pillar for this team and in this community moving forward.”

Andrew, 18, an Oil Caps auto-protect prior to the 2015 MJHL Bantam Draft, is a Virden product who spent some time with his hometown team at the beginning of the year, playing in 15 games with the Oil Caps before being sent down to the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League’s Southwest Cougars. The 5-foot-9, 165 pound forward would later re-join the team for the club’s playoff drive.

Troy Leslie and Tanner Andrew

“I think being with the team for the first half of the season last year really prepared me for what was to come,” he said. “Even

in the playoffs with the team it gave me a great understanding of what it takes to win and be successful doing it.”

Andrew says it’s a dream for every young hockey player to be able to play in front of their friends and family each night.

“I’m extremely grateful for that,” he said with a smile.

Andrew considers himself more of a playmaker and that reading the ice is one of his strengths.

“I would say I’m more of a passer than a shooter,” he added. “I’m hoping to bring a quick fast-paced game to the team next year. I hope to help the team in any aspect that I can.”

Former Oil Cap Jordan Greig billeted with the Andrew family for three years – and it helped Tanner become more familiar with the inner workings of junior hockey.

“It really gave me a sense of what junior hockey was all about. I was able to learn lots from him.”

Andrew had 12 goals and 22 assists for 34 points in 28 regular season games last season with the Cougars.

“Andrew is somebody we have the utmost respect for,” states Oil Caps management. “Tanner was put in a tough situation last year being sent to the AAA Midget Cougars on Dec. 1. He handled it with a great attitude and only used the disappointment to better himself. He grew as a player last year with us and with the Cougars in his development both on and off the ice.”

Wallace, 18, joined Andrew as the other Oil Caps auto-protect prior to the ’15 Draft. The Oak Lake product, who spent last season with Andrew and the AAA Midget Cougars, will be vying for playing time between the pipes with Virden this upcoming year.

Troy Leslie and Riley Wallace

“I’m very excited to join the Oil Caps next season,” he said with a smile. “It’s a great place to play junior hockey and it’s a great feeling to play in front of hometown friends and family.”

The 5-foot-9, 158 pound goaltender describes himself as a competitor, never giving up on any play.

“I try and use my speed to my advantage which is key for a smaller goaltender,” he added.

Wallace’s game plan is simple: come into this season in good shape and with a great work ethic.

“I want to just keep things simple and play my game like I know I can and keep that going into the season as well. I just want to keep progressing as a goaltender and as a person and there’s no better place than Virden to do that.”

Wallace says he witnessed first-hand former Oil Caps netminder Riley McVeigh showcase his skill-set in net for Virden – and that he learned a few things he plans on implementing into his own game moving forward.

“Riley is also another one of those smaller goalies so it’s really nice to watch someone who plays a similar style that I play.”

Wallace finished last season with a 19-10 record, 2.67 goals against average and a .917 save percentage.

Oil Caps management’s take on Wallace: an athletic but calm goalie in the net.

“Riley is extremely motivated to prove he can be a top goalie in this league. He’s grown his skills in AAA midget with the Cougars and will get an opportunity to continue his development now at this level. Riley will compliment returning goaltender Dalton Dosch very well. The goaltending tandem will push each other to be better every day in their craft.”

Three young players full of promise. The future is here for the Oil Caps and excitement is in the air.

“The organization is thrilled to have these three players on board,” said Jamie Hodson, director of business and hockey operations for the Oil Capitals. “All are true Oil Capitals in their heart of hearts. With spectacular seasons last year, these players were coveted in other leagues, but their desire to wear the uniform really shows their commitment to the hockey club.”