TULSA, Okla. – When the puck drops on the 2018-19 ECHL Season, the Tulsa Oilers will take to the ice for their 26th straight season as a professional sports franchise in Tulsa, second only to the Tulsa Drillers baseball team in the city in terms of longevity.
The team’s name itself was originated in 1928 by legendary oilman William G. Skelly so, in all reality, the Oilers are celebrating 90 years as a hockey franchise with that name. Though their history is not contiguous, putting them in the same sentence with some of the NHL teams in years as a franchise.
The Oilers have claimed several championships in the varied leagues they have participated, the last of which came in 1992 when they claimed the inaugural Central Hockey League championship. In addition, they have generated several players who have moved on to glory in the NHL.
This season marks the team’s fourth in the ECHL and second-year head coach Rob Murray looks to break the Oilers’ three-year playoff drought the team has suffered and, if the fates allow, raise the Kelly Cup for the first time in the Oil Capitol. Compared to his first season the team looks to be well stocked to make that happen.
Nuts and Bolts:
2017-18 Record: 31-29-12, 74 points
Division/Conference Finish: 5th in Mountain, 11th in Western Conference
Playoff Finish: Did not qualify
Goals For Per Game: 2.97 (Tied for 17th in ECHL)
Goals Against Per Game: 3.24 (16th in ECHL)
Power Play: 12.9% (26th in ECHL)
Penalty Kill: 84.2% (Tied for 9th in ECHL)
The big news this offseason was the stabilization of the teams AHL affiliate. St. Louis was in the process of switching affiliates last season from the Chicago Wolves to the San Antonio Rampage, as the Wolves had opted to become the AHL affiliate for the Vegas Golden Knights. It has resulted in several players being assigned to the Oilers from San Antonio, (two forwards, a defenseman and a goaltender), and it is widely assumed that this will increase the depth of talent the Oilers throughout the season.
Devin Williams, Goaltender: Second-year pro from Saginaw made a big splash in his professional debut last season, winning his first four starts and stabilizing a shaky start to the season in goal for the Oilers.
Adam Pleskach, Forward: Oilers team Captain in his sixth year with Tulsa, who continues to ascend through the Oilers all-time performers. He’s fourth overall in goals scored, eighth in points and sixth overall in games played.
Peter Sivak, Forward: The 10th-year pro has a solid history with Coach Murray. The 36-year-old is a point-per-game player in the ECHL, and with Murray as his head coach, has had some of his best success, putting up 203 points (86G, 117A) in 171 regular-season games.
Gone but Not Forgotten:
Joey Sides: Forward who departed for Kansas City in the offseason, solid goal scorer and gritty on the backcheck.
Chris Joyaux: Defenseman signed with Coventry in the UK and was a solid blueliner for the Oilers in the last three seasons.
Sin Bin Swami Sez:
The Oilers are deeper in talent at the outset of this season than most fans can remember. The problem is will they be able to sustain through the midway point of the year, when injuries start affecting the affiliates and they need to call up players to fill slots?
The Oilers have been very streaky in the first few months of the season, but once that time of the year sets in they have been unable to keep up momentum when the big brothers come calling.
If the injuries are at a minimum, the Oilers could be a contender for a top-four spot in the Mountain Division.
What Say You?