Bob Berry, was the Master of Ceremonies on Thursday night.
The Virden Oil Capitals held their annual Year-End Awards Banquet on Thursday night for over 300 people at Tundra Oil & Gas Place. The evening, which was hosted by FoxTail Hauling, had several highlights and emotion filled speeches that touched on the three-year history of the club as well as the excitement heading into the upcoming MJHL playoffs.
Oil Caps Governor, Bob Berry, was the master of ceremonies for the night who invited team President, Dale Lewis, Head Coach and General Manager, Troy Leslie, team Captain, Ben Williams, and Marketing Manager, Lindsey Gullett to the podium to say a few words to start the evening.
Ray Walker accepts an Oil Caps jersey from Marketing Manager, Lindsey Gullett.
The team’s play-by-play announcer, Ray Walker, was honoured during the speeches as he has announced that he will be stepping away from the microphone at the end of the Oil Caps post-season. Walker performed a bit of a mock interview with Coach Leslie during his speech, highlighting the season and touching on a bit of the history that has taken place in the past three seasons. Lewis and Gullett also shared their stories and comments for the audience on their relationship with Walker and the passion and professionalism that he brings to his role as the team’s radio broadcaster. The team presented Walker with an Oil Caps jersey and an engraved glass plaque to show their appreciation for the services that he has provided over the past three seasons with the club.
Head Coach/GM, Troy Leslie, addresses the crowd on Thursday evening.
Captain, Ben Williams, speaks on behalf of the players to the audience.
The evening continued with the awards. Twelve awards were handed out at this year’s banquet along with the introduction of a new award, the Cole Hamblin Memorial Award, that will be presented annually to the Oil Caps most valuable player in the playoffs. Cole’s former billet sister, Paige Meikle, gave a well-spoken, heartfelt speech while introducing the award and discussed the impact that Cole made on their family. The Oil Caps alum graduated from the program as a 20-year-old last spring and lost a short, but courageous battle with cancer this past fall.
The regular season awards that were presented were as follows:
Altus Geomatics Three Stars Award Winner – Soren Frederiksen. Presented by Ray Walker on behalf of Deke Baley.
McNeill, Harasymchuk, McConnell Top Scorer Award – Soren Frederiksen. Presented by Rene McNeill.
Virden Footwear Hardest Worker – Devan Schram. Presented by Clayton Murray.
Rocky Mountain Equipment Dependable Player of the Year – Sean Kuehn. Presented by Jason Miller.
Fountain Tire Fan’s Choice Award – Zach Whitecloud. Presented by Mandy Taylor.
Mar-Dee Enterprises Most Improved Player – Zach Whitecloud. Presented by Bill Hayward
Black Gold Trucking Top Defensive Player – Ben Williams. Presented by Dallas George
CIBC Most Sportsmanlike – Devan Schram. Presented by Shelby Rampton.
Sunrise Credit Union Most Community-Minded – Clay Van Diest. Presented by Kerry McLeod.
Cross Plumbing & Heating Top Defenseman – Jordan Greig. Presented by Brock Andrew.
GCS Energy Services Rookie of the Year – Dylan Thiessen. Presented by Jim Moser.
MRC Global Most Valuable Players – Ben Williams and Jordan Greig. Presented by Keith Hunt.
The Cole Hamblin Memorial Award was introduced and will be presented annually to the team’s playoff MVP.
Following the awards, the Virden Oil Capitals Foundation jersey auction took place. All the funds from the auction goes towards community initiatives and projects. In three seasons, the Oil Caps Foundation has given more than $150,000 back into the Westman area. The first item auction of the evening was a framed inaugural season jersey that was donated back to the team by Sunrise Credit Union to help raise funds for Cole Hamblin’s family and Cole’s battle with cancer. Unfortunately his battle ended too soon and the team never had a chance to act on the offer. The jersey was up for auction on Wednesday with the funds going towards a Cole Hamblin Memorial Scholarship that will be presented to a graduating student in the Fort La Bosse School Division this spring. The deserving recipient will be a high school student-athlete that showed good sportsmanship, leadership, a genuine care and respect for their teammates and coaches, as well as a strong dedication and passion for their sport(s) – all qualities that Cole possessed. The framed jersey brought in $4,500 thanks to a generous donation from Jim and Karen Moser and GCS Energy Services. The auction was highlighted by the purchase of Zach Whitecloud’s jersey for $4,000 and Soren Frederiksen’s jersey for $3,000. In total, the jersey auction raised $27,150. Thank you to everyone who purchased a jersey and supported the Virden Oil Capitals Foundation.
The evening officially capped off the regular season for the Oil Caps who are set to play the Winkler Flyers in the opening round of the MJHL Playoffs. Game one of the playoffs is slated for Wednesday evening in Winkler with game two of the series going Friday night in Virden. Tickets are on sale now at the Oil Caps office by calling 204-748-4848. Season ticket holders have until Wednesday at noon to purchase their seats before they become open to the public online Wednesday afternoon.