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TULSA, Okla. — The Tulsa Oilers went to the blueline to announce their first signing of the offseason on Thursday. The team announced that defenseman Steven Kaunisto has been re-signed for the 2018-19 ECHL season.

The 31-year-old Michigan native is returning to the Oilers roster for his tenth professional season after posting a stellar 2017-18 campaign. Kaunisto garnered the team’s Defensive Player of the Year award last season after posting 29 points (6 goals, 23 assists) in 71 games last season. The totals were ECHL career highs in goals, assists, and points.

Known for his hustle, Kaunisto brought consistency to a sometimes porous Tulsa blue line, with a quick shot and solid checking abilities.

“I am excited to be coming back and hope to improve on what I did last year to help the team as much as I can,” said Kaunisto. “We had a pretty good season last year, but fell short of what we wanted to do. With Coach Murray being here all year, I know he will put together another great team and we will get into the playoffs and make a push for a championship.”

For his career, Kaunisto has amassed 174 points off 38 goals and 136 assists in 448 games. He previously spent time on numerous ECHL and former Central Hockey League clubs before settling in Tulsa last season. Before to turning pro, Kaunisto spent four years at Lake Superior State University where he accumulated 59 points in 154 games during his college career.

Oilers head coach Rob Murray is proud of his veteran defenseman and expects great things of him next season.

“Steve was a great leader for us last season,” said Murray. “His game got better and better as we went along and I’m really happy to have him back in Tulsa. He is a guy that competes and cares every night.”

More signings are expected in the coming weeks and months leading up to training camp in October.

You can keep up on all the player movement around the ECHL by visiting our transactions page at


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