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Speedy Virden Oil Capitals rookie forward Hunter Andrews adjusted to the Junior A level quickly – pun intended.

The homegrown product, the son of Brock and Andrea Andrew, joined the Manitoba Junior Hockey League club after developing his game for two seasons in the Southwest Cougar U18 AAA program. As a 17-year-old, first-year player, Andrew said the biggest adjustments were “Just getting used to the speed of the game and making plays at a faster pace.”

He certainly made those adjustments and became an important contributor to the Oil Caps. He was named the team’s GCS Energy Services Rookie of The Year.

Hunter’s strength is his speed,” Oil Caps head coach Tyson Ramsey said. “He is quick to get on top of defenders and to challenge the opposition with that speed. He will go to the hard areas to be successful and he has the ability to play on the wall and up the middle. He has had an impressive season for a young guy.”

The 6-foot, 160-pounder posted 30 points, including 13 goals, in 59 games. Andrew was ninth in the MJHL in rookie scoring. He got his season off to a great start with a goal and an assist. During a February stretch, Andrew racked up seven points in four games. He capped the regular season with four points in the last five games. In the playoffs, which were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Andrew had a goal and two assists in a Virden win in the team’s final game. What he allowed him to put up points as a first-year player?

“I think being a faster guy has helped me be able to adjust and get some points on the board,” Andrew said.

Unlike many MJHL players, one adjustment Andrew didn’t have to make to the Junior A level was moving away from home.

Being able to play in front of my friends and family every night has been a really cool experience that most players don’t get,” he said.

He also got the unique opportunity to be teammates with his older brother Tanner. The elder Andrew, who was in his 19-year-old season, posted 55 points, including 25 goals, in 47 games last winter. He is slated to suit up at the NCAA Division I level next season at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York state.

“It’s been cool getting to play with my brother,” the younger Andrew said. “In my first year of AAA (U18), we got to play together which was cool, but now playing junior in front of our hometown has been even cooler.” 

Andrew’s family cheered on him and his brother at the Tundra Oil & Gas Place this past winter like they have at various rinks during their hockey playing days.

“My family has been great throughout my hockey career,” he said. “There’s nothing that they wouldn’t do to help me succeed with hockey and in life.”

Story by Robin Wark