The Oil Caps kicked off 2018 with a 5-2 win over the Winkler Flyers on Wednesday night at Tundra Oil and Gas Place.
“I thought we were a little sluggish in the first period and then I thought we responded very well in the second and then carried it over into the third,” said head coach and GM Troy Leslie.
Tyler Kirkup got things started on the right foot for the Oil Caps, netting his 21st tally of the season at the 9:44 mark of the first period. The Virden product is the Meyers Norris Penny Oil Caps player of the month for December.
“He just works hard and is always on the puck,” Leslie said of Kirkup. “When your best players are doing that then it sets the example for everybody else.”
Coltyn Bates would later respond for the Flyers on the power play (12:31) to tie the contest 1-1 after 20 minutes.
Ben Dalke scored the lone goal early in the second period (his 12th of the year on the power play) to make it 2-1 for Virden. Rylee Zimmer’s 14th of the year (1:15), Kirklan Lycar’s eighth of the campaign (3:43) and Landyn Cochrane’s third of the season (13:43) made it 5-1 in the third before Matt Christian replied for Winkler late to round out the scoring.
“It was a good message going into the next part of the year,” said Leslie. “I thought in games like this in the past, we had a hard time keeping the intensity up and tonight we did that and got rewarded for it.”
Oil Caps blueliner Justin Lee described it as a great team win.
“It was nice to get back and to start the year off with a win,” he said with a smile.
“It’s something that we can build on,” Leslie added. “Looking ahead at our schedule in the next month, we know it’s going to be a tough one. This was a good start.”
Riley McVeigh turned aside 27 of 29 pucks for the win between the pipes for Virden to pick up the win, while Troy Martyniuk stopped 36 of 41 shots in the loss for Winkler.
The win bumps the Oil Caps into sole possession of third place in the MJHL standings with a 23-11-2-0 record, good for 48 points, just one point behind Portage for second place.