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The silly season 2014, CHL style

First off, congratulations to the Allen Americans for winning their second straight CHL President’s Cup for the 2013-2014 season.

Now, as the CHL playoffs have concluded, the silly season begins.

For those not familiar with the silly season, I have followed it for about 15 years now.  It’s always about the strange happenings in the off-season for minor league sports.  Specifically the league I follow, the CHL.  There have been a lot of strange happenings, but not necessarily confined to the off-season.

However, the first casualty of the silly season is —- the St. Charles Chill.

There are also some grumblings about the Denver CutThroats being in some financial trouble, but no word of any closure.

In more upbeat news, the Allen Americans have changed owners, with the Steven Brothers (owners of both the Wichita Thunder and Tulsa Oilers) purchasing the team.

In front office/coaching news, the Wichita Thunder have extended the contract of head coach Kevin McClelland.  In other Steven Brothers team news, the contract for Tulsa Oilers head coach Bruce Ramsay has been extended as well, and two players with the club last season — defenseman Jake Obermeyer, and defenseman and team captain Nathan Lutz — have been re-signed for the 2014-2015 campaign.

Please discuss below, or join discussions in the forum.

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Yes, I’m still here…

Well, the last post on this website wasn’t even made by me (by John Hall..thanks for adding contact during your road trip).  I’ve had a busy and eventful few months.

Starting in mid December my mother was ill and I had to tend to her.  I made a few hockey games, but while she was recuperating, I was not able to travel.  Things are getting better however.  Still can’t travel yet, but hopefully by next season I can.

I will make some blog and forum posts to try to catch up on my thoughts about the season and the pending silly season.

Look forward to everyone participating.  Please feel free to comment below.  Post in the forums as well.

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Live blog – Oilers at Missouri

Hey gang, I’m in the press box here in Independence and I’ll keep you posted on the action tonight as it happens! Keep refreshing for updates!

 

That didn’t take long…

3:56 1st – Todd Robinson scores on the backhand, Tulsa leads 1-0. Bochek and Bobo with the assists.

19:59 1st – Oilers put a nice rush together at the end, but none go in.

END 1st – Oilers 1, Mavericks 0.

Second period underway…

1:56 2nd – Mavs penalty, Odegaard for interference. Oilers on PP.  *Update – Oilers fail to score on PP.

5:04 2nd – Oilers penalty, Lutz for unsportsmanlike conduct. Mavs on PP.

6:15 2nd – Scrum in front of Oilers net, matching roughing minors for Bocheck and Courtney.

Oilers kill the penalty

9:07 2nd – Starting to get chippy out there, very entertaining game so far.

9:40 2nd – Tulsa penalty, Bocheck holding the stick. Mavs on PP.

11:40 2nd – Oilers kill the penalty

14:30 2nd – Oilers penalty, Bochek goalie interference. Mavs on PP.

16:30 2nd – Oilers kill penalty. Still 1-0 Tulsa.

19:37 2nd – Oilers penalty, Lutz for holding. Mavs on PP.

END 2nd – Tulsa 1, Missouri 0. Ice tilting towards the Tulsa goal, but Mads is playing well and holding strong.

We’re a few seconds away from starting the third period.

2:48 3rd – Penalties – Tulsa Macaulay high stick, Colt King for roughing. 4-on-4 for two minutes.

4:05 3rd – Mavs penalty, Ramsay interference. 4 on 3 for 44 seconds.

5:32 3rd – shorthanded goal for Mavs, Vossen picked up the puck from a Tulsa turnover and put it in the top right corner to tie the game at 1-1.

6:12 3rd – Mavs goal as penalty expired, Pszenyczny found Ramsay all alon and he burried it. 2-1 Mavs.

6:53 3rd – Mavs penalty, Hayes for slashing. Tulsa on the PP.

8:12 3rd – Tulsa penalty, too many men on ice. 4 on 4.

9:03 3rd – Hayes released from box, takes a long feed and scores. Linesmen out of position, seemed to be a possible offside call that was missed. Mavs 3, Oilers 1.

10:39 3rd – Mavs penalty, Hayes for slashing. Oilers on PP, they need to score here and take some air out of the crowd.

11:51 3rd – Oilers penalty, Pleskach for roughing while the Oilers were cycling on the PP. 4 on 4 for next 48 seconds.

12:19 3rd – OILERS GOAL – Bochek on his own rebound. Mavs 3, Oilers 2 with 7:41 remaining.

13:23 3rd – Timeout Mavs.

13:51 rd – Oilers kill penalty. Still 3-2, Missouri.

One minute remaining

25.2 second left. Mads has been pulled, timeout Tulsa. Oilers will have a faceoff to the the right of Owen with a 6 on 5 advantage. One last push to tie it up.

19:55 3rd – Mavs empty net goal by Aduba. Missouri will win this one 4-2. Nice final effort from Tulsa though.

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Road trip stories

I’ve been a fan of the Oilers since about 1996.  That same year, my cousin and I went to a Wednesday night game at the Myriad in Oklahoma City.  We sat WAY up in the 400 section with our jerseys.  Back then, wearing the opposing team jersey in OKC — especially if you were an Oiler fan — was risky.

Since that time, I’ve taken more than my fair share of roadies..I’ve been to:

  • OKC, multiple times
  • Wichita, multiple times
  • Topeka, multiple times
  • Ft. Worth, once
  • Texarkana, once
  • Colorado, once
  • New Mexico (Tingley Coliseum), once
  • St. Louis, twice (for the St. Louis Blues)

Invariable, these were with a group, aside from the last two.  This usually makes for some storied adventures.  I have many in my travels.

If you have had a fun roadie worthy of note, please share it with us in the comments section.

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A different team now

I usually tell my friends that watch the Oiler hockey games with me that I tend to wait for about 10 games before I make my initial assessment of the team.

If you would have asked me about this time last month what I thought of the team, it might have sounded like this:

  • BoBo (Michel Beausoleil) is too old and has lost a step
  • Our team toughness is next to nothing.
  • Our goaltending is suspect.
  • Where the hell has Todd Robinson gone?

The Oilers began the 2013-2014 season a dismal 0-5-2.  That horrid stretch ended with a loss on November 2 to Allen at the BOK Center.  I was very pessimistic about the rest of the season.

Maybe it’s all about personnel and getting the right people.

It’s not a coincidence, in my opinion, that the day before the last loss, that Adam Pleskach was signed and Brandon Coccimiglio returned from the injured reserve.  While Ryan Menei was injured earlier with a knee problem, I thought that was a huge loss.

Maybe not so much.

Starting with that game on Nov 1st, Pleskach started an eight-game point streak that was only ended at a 3-2 win at the IBC in Wichita on Nov 16th.  In that stretch, Pleskach notched 14 points (7g, 7a).  He was teamed up on a line with newly-returned Coccimiglio.  His game was bettered as well, going on a six-game point streak of his own to start on Nov 1st.  In that six-game stretch, Coccimiglio marked 11 points (4g, 7a).  The second line was scoring nearly at will, once the MacAulay brothers (Blair and Scott) joined the team on Nov 17th.

Since that loss on Nov 2, The Oilers are now a torrid 10-1-0.  That includes a wild tilt in Allen where 18 total goals were scored, and it appeared the game was defense-optional and full of brawls.  The Oilers won that game 10-8, then in the rematch that next day at the BOK center, won by a little more normal margin of 4-2.

I stil think the goaltending is a little suspect, as Shane Madolora’s stats aren’t that impressive yet (8-5-1, 3.22 GA, .899 SVPCT).  Ross MacKinnon is not really any better (2-2-2, 3.22 GA, .877 SVPCT).

Some of the goaltending numbers can be explained by soft defense earlier in the season.  Not all of it can, however.

This team is now scoring goals.  What it needs to do well now is turn them away better.  The defense is improving.  I still see soft goals from time to time though.

I am enjoying watching them.  I couldn’t say that about last season’s team.

Our crew plans a road trip to the IBC on Dec 7th, and we are contemplating the News Years Eve trip to Missouri for that game as well.

 

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First weekend complete

So, where do I start?

This team obviously needs to work on special teams.  Two shorthanded goals against sofar this season?  Penalty kill at 78.9%?  There is definitely room for improvement there.

I know, Allen is the returning championship team.  But to watch this team give up a 2-0 lead TWICE  in TWO NIGHTS on HOME ICE is not acceptable.

Coach Ramsay’s response after last nights game to the Tulsa World

The last three games have been so close it could have gone either way. We are going to stay the course and get back on the ice tomorrow and start working hard. Guys like Todd Robinson and Ben Gordon can score in a hurry once it starts working for them.

I have a hard time hearing quotes like this (essentially relying on two big guns when we should spread the talent). Especially now that we have owners who aren’t afraid to open wallets.  Now maybe he misspoke or I’m taking it out of context.  But we should not look to depend on two guys for our offense, as we did when Lund was owner.

Ramsay is on the clock.  I think he realizes if this team doesn’t make the playoffs, he won’t be around next season.

Please discuss below.

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Opening night impressions

Ugh.

Let a 2-0 lead get away.  Never good.

Granted, all of those goals were on the power play.  That tells me two things.

  1. This team needs to play more disciplined
  2. They need to learn to kill penalties if they can’t do number one.

Now that the purse strings for the team are more wide open, money is no longer an excuse.  I’m not placing blame this early simply because of that — it’s early.  Hearing people at the game last night immediately start blaming Rammer for the problems is ill-advised.  It was the third game of the season, people.

Note:  I will not be able to live blog to the site due to some complications with doing it via phone.

Instead, it might be easier for those of you wanting to follow the game to do so via the site’s Twitter feed

I will be at the Sunday game doing  just that.


Items of note:

Players wearing the letters (which was a mystery for most until last night)

  • Captain – Nathan Lutz
  • Alternate Captains – Ben Gordon, Todd Robinson.
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Fan superstitions

Most die-hard hockey fans know that hockey players have superstitions.  Hell, for that matter, all sports have players with superstitions.  Some are pretty noticeable and easy to distinguish, like the playoff beard.  Others not quite so noticeable, like teams leaving the locker rooms in a certain order..sometimes goalie first, sometimes the captain enters the ice first.  Patrick Roy used to converse with his goal posts.  Not touching the Conference Champion Trophy.

However, many fans of hockey have their own superstitions, especially when at the games in person.  A famous one is the ‘rally cap’ — if wearing a cap, you take it off, turn the cap inside-out, turn it around backwards, and wear it that way.  It’s believed to help your team  rally from a deficit.

I confess to having a ‘routine’ before I go to a hockey game at the MotherShip.  One that I tweak from time to time, but it typically works.  Here is my current agenda

  • I don’t eat any meat before I head to the rink.  I eat very little at all.  Maybe because I will eat at or sometimes before the game, but it’s something I’ve always done.
  • I have a playlist I adhere to on the drive in (if I’m driving).  It’s not a long drive, so it consists of four or five songs.
  • I park in the same spot (I park far enough from the BOK Center that this is usually possible).  If we lose, I adjust where I park, but not by much.  Usually by one space.
  • I have two Oiler sweaters.  I don’t always wear a team sweater to the games, but if I don’t and we lose, I start again.  If I wear one and we lose, I wear the other one.  And so on.
  • I wear hats to games occasionally.  If we lose and I’m not wearing a hat, I wear one the next game.  If we lose, I change hats.  I don’t currently own any Oiler hats.  I have an LA Kings Stanley Cup hat, a Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup hat, and a St. Louis Blues hat I bought at a recent trip to see a Blues game in St. Louis.

Some funny ‘retired’ superstitions (some that date back to the late 1990s):

  • Must drink one Moulson beer provided by a fan who used to frequent the games that we called ‘Wilburton Barry’.  He no longer attends the games.
  • Walk up the CC steps in twos.  Change if we lose.
  • Enter through a specific entrance at the CC.  Change if we lose.
  • My favorite:  if we see a ‘little person’ at anytime during gameday, we win.  If it’s on a Friday, and we see said ‘little person’ away from the CC, we win the next three home games.
  • Rally Nachos

Comment here about any superstitions you might currently have (that you’re not embarrassed to admit), or any funny ones from the past.

#reloadvictory

 

6

Glad to be back!

I had a keyboard in front of me and I’m bored, so I figured I might as well add some content.

I know many won’t see this post for a while still, but I am glad to have TOF up and running again! Thanks to Mark for dusting things off and giving us a place to talk Tulsa Oilers hockey. I lurk on the CHL Forums, but find myself rarely posting anymore – Hopefully this site can build a nice following of fans from Tulsa. As the CHL Editor for Pro Hockey News, I also see this site as a way to expand my Oilers coverage a bit further now that I have 10 teams to cover instead of just one. I hope to be able to sit down with Rammer from time to time and ask him some questions, just for Tulsa Oiler Fans. If you ever have any questions you want me to ask him, any of the players, anyone with the league or other teams, please let me know.

Man am I excited for the home opener on Saturday! I remember a time when I felt the same way about each opener. Granted, I got into hockey at a different time than a lot of you, becoming a STH heading into the “Bruce Garber season.” Unfortunately, as time went on my excitement level dropped. I do contribute that partially to the level of play on the ice. Life, as it always seems to do, also got in the way at times.

I still remember my early days as a STH, watching Marcellus, Birmingham and Gravelle lighting the lamp frequently. I fondly remember seeing Angela Ruggiero suiting up for the team and playing along side her brother Bill, even scoring a point. Who else remembers standing on your seat, jumping up and down, when Bill and Colorado’s Tyler Wieman went at it mid-ice during that lopsided Oilers playoff win?

Over the years I made several lasting memories through hockey. Road trips were and still are always a blast. Shreveport was a ton of fun from the second we left T-town. I’ve also made many good friends through the game.

Even though I didn’t attend many games last season, my love for hockey and the Oilers began to be restored at that time. After I lost my home in the massive wildfire on August 4, 2012, many fellow fans rushed to my aid – some of whom I didn’t know by name, only as people I saw and said hello to at games. The team even pitched in, letting me drop the puck at a game and presenting me with a stick signed by Angela Ruggiero and a jersey with my name on it.

Moving along before it gets too sappy (thanks again to everyone, by the way)…

Then June rolled around and I began to hear rumblings that the Oilers were about to be sold to the ownership group of the Wichita Thunder. While the fan in me questioned the move (the Thunder are our rivals after all, aren’t they?), the journalist in me thought it was a brilliant move – just look what they had done with the Thunder in the last couple of seasons! Then came the announcement, and from that day forward I’ve been anticipating the home opener.

With the talent that Rammer has brought to town, I expect this to be a very special season for the Oilers. Then add to it the amount of energy and fresh blood that the ownership has pumped into the organization. While surfing the Oilers site a couple of weeks ago, I was shocked to see how many more front office employees have been added. Bus ads, billboards, TV and radio time are all up as well. It makes me happy for the fan base in Tulsa, and also for the people who have been with the organization for a while as well. I hope everything goes well, because no one deserves a championship caliber team more than Tulsa.

The only missing ingredient are the fans. People in Tulsa need to come out game after game and support this team. Can you imagine how rockin’ of a building the BOK can be if it’s full of thousands of yelling, screaming fans? If you haven’t taken anything from this long-winded, early morning rambling, please do this one thing – Get out and support the Oilers, and be sure to spread the word to friends, family and even former fans that have been away for a while. We could have the beginnings of something very special.