The Virden Oil Capitals took advantage of a depleted Winnipeg Blues lineup on Friday night as the club picked up a 5-3 win at Tundra Oil and Gas Place.
After a back-and-forth affair through two periods, the Oil Capitals turned up the intensity in the final frame against a Blues team that only iced nine forwards and five defencemen on the night.
After Levi Cudmore scored his 18th of the season for the Blues at the 6:20 mark to tie the contest 2-2, the Oil Caps responded, netting three tallies of their own as blueliner Jayden Wojciechowski scored his second in as many nights at 9:46 followed by Josh Belcher’s second of the year approximately a couple minutes later. Jeran Knorr netted his 17th of the season at the 15:03 mark to make it 5-2 for Virden.
“I’m feeling more comfortable out there,” said Wojciechowski regarding his play of late. “I’m playing as hard as I can and getting things done.”
Brandon Marques of the Blues cut into the lead late (18:44) but it was too little, too late for Winnipeg on this night.
“We just needed to make sure that we refocused in between the second and third,” said Oil Caps head coach and GM Troy Leslie. “I thought we needed to simplify our game and in the third we put some pucks on net and got rewarded for it.”
After a scoreless first period, Tyler Kirkup kicked things off in the second, netting his 20th of the year at the 1:59 mark, followed by Kolten Kanaski’s 14th of the season less than a minute later. Kelton Sutherland’s third of the season for the Blues at the 14:17 mark of the second made it 2-1 Virden after 40 minutes.
Leslie says going up against an undermanned team can, at times, work in favour for your club, but it can also have a negative effect.
“Obviously when you see that you want to play all your lines as much as possible,” he said. “On the flip side of that with nine forwards, it’s really easy for guys to get into the rhythm of the game too. However, in saying that, I thought it might have been a factor in the third in that they just started to wear down a little bit and we were able to have some success.”
This was the last game in 2017 for the Oil Capitals as the club is now on its holiday break. The club’s next contest isn’t until Jan. 3 when Virden hosts the Winkler Flyers.
“It’s a much-needed break because it’s a long haul,” said Oil Caps forward Rylee Zimmer. “Guys are tired and stuff and they’re excited to go home. It’ll be nice to get away from the rink for a few days. I’m pretty sure by the end of the break, everybody is going to be excited to get back into it and get into things again.”
Dalton Dosch stopped 22 of 25 pucks to pick up the win in net for the Oil Caps as the club improved to 22-11-2-0 on the season. Jeremy Link turned aside 40 of 45 shots to take the loss between the pipes for the Blues.