The Virden Oil Capitals will have another fresh face on the blueline for the 2020-21 Manitoba Junior Hockey League season, as defenceman Sam Mitani of the Winnipeg Wild U18 AAA program officially committed to the Oil Caps on Monday.
Following a brief peewee AA career with the Winnipeg Twins, Mitani, now 17, spent his next four seasons playing bantam and midget AAA with the Monarchs and Wild organizations, contributing defensively in a shutdown role, while providing some offence in the process. In 46 games in 2019-20, the 6-foot-1, 170-pound rearguard put up two goals and 18 points, to go along with 30 penalty minutes.
As a part of a highly offensive defence corps that saw the likes of Hughie Hooker, Rory Neill, Brandon McCartney and Sam Court earn offensive minutes, Mitani did his part contributing at even strength and on the penalty kill. “I’m very excited to join the Oil Caps organization and to play at the next level,” Mitani said in a team-issued press release. “I can’t wait to get started!”
“We are very excited to add Sam to our hockey club,” Oil Capitals head coach and GM Tyson Ramsey added. “He is a real smooth skater and has a hockey IQ that is very high. He played in one game with us as an AP last season and it was evident that he would be ready to play at this level. He got to pucks quickly, made good first passes and defended well with a good stick. Along with Trevor Hunt, we feel like we have added two of the best young defencemen in the U18 AAA league last season.”
The right hand-shooting defender of Winnipeg, had his playing rights dealt by the Selkirk Steelers to Virden in a mid-September trade that saw fellow blueliner Patrick Comeau go the other way. Comeau dressed for 58 games with Selkirk in 2019-20, while Mitani suited up for one game with the Oil Caps in late February, collecting one minor penalty in the process.
After auto-protecting local Virden product Ty Plaisier prior to the 2020 MJHL Bantam Draft, the Oil Caps made six selections, adding London Hoilett, Evan Groening, Nolan Chastko, Owen LaRocque, Dawson Andries and Parker Grift to the mix. The team also saw a number of prospects drafted to the USHL before the news of Mitani’s official signing came through as the first commitment of the 2020 offseason.