While the sting of losing in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League Turnbull Cup Final’s is still fresh in their minds, the Virden Oil Capitals have quickly turned their attention to the future with the signing of three top prospects, all with ties to Westman.
Riley Wallace (Oak Lake), Brett Paddock (Brandon) and Tanner Andrew (Virden) all committed to the Oil Caps last week and will be looked at to make an immediate impact.
Paddock, who played for the Brandon AAA Wheat Kings last season was added to the Oil Caps protected list following the 2015 MJHL Bantam Draft and put up 74 points in 46 games last year and made his MJHL debut with Virden as well.
“It’s been a goal of mine to play with the Caps since I was listed after the draft,” said Paddock. “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.”
Meanwhile, Andrew and Wallace are familiar faces to the Oil Caps fanbase. Wallace posted a .917 save percentage with the Southwest AAA Cougars last season while Andrew actually started the season with the Oil Caps before finishing with the Cougars. In 28 AAA Midget games, Andrew scored 12 times and added 22 assists.
“Andrew is somebody we have the utmost respect for,” said 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.”
Off the ice, the Oil Caps will be without one of the pillars of the franchise since their inception in 2011.
Former Team President and Assistant Coach Dale Lewis has resigned from his position to allow himself to follow his youngest son Braeden as he begins his junior hockey career.
The youngest Lewis was auto-protected by his hometown Oil Capitals and was also a draft pick of the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos.
“I feel it’s in his (Braeden) best interest that I remove myself from the Oil Caps picture,” Lewis said. “This is his journey, and I don’t want anything to distract from that. Sometimes perceptions can be harmful, and I don’t want that to end up affecting him in any way.”
Lewis was an integral part of bringing the Oil Caps to Virden after a group of local businessman purchased the Winnipeg Saints. He has not only been the Club’s President, but also a billett, parent of a player (Tanner), and most recently Assistant Coach.
“Everyone involved in the game has always had a small group of people who have aided and supported them along the way, and Dale has been one of those people for me,” said Oil Caps Head Coach Troy Leslie. “Dale has afforded me the opportunity to be part of the Virden Oil Capitals organization and continue to be part of the game in southwestern Manitoba, and I’m very thankful for that. Dale’s contributions to this organization are immeasurable. It was great to share this year’s experience alongside Dale in what was a special season for the Virden Oil Capitals organization.”