TULSA, Okla. —The most wonderful time of the year is almost here.
The Tulsa Oilers are set to being their 26th continuous season as a professional hockey franchise on October 13th when they open at home against the Idaho Steelheads. Before that happens though, head coach Rob Murray has the task of deciding which of the 22 players he invited to camp have the chops to be a Tulsa Oiler as he convenes training camp this week.
A total of 11 forwards, nine defensemen and two goaltenders will take to the Oilers practice rink, representing a healthy mix of veterans and rookies. This season, Tulsa will enjoy a solid partner in the AHL as the St. Louis Blues have claimed the San Antonio Rampage as their affiliate in the American Hockey League. Last season it was indeterminate as to who was the Oilers feeder from the AHL, as the Blues had no firm AHL club affiliated to them. That’s a paperwork salad but the end result is that two players from San Antonio will be in camp this year, defensemen Dylan Bredo and Kyle Rhodes.
The Tulsa camp begins just as four contracted players from Tulsa completed their stints in the Rampage camp.
Forward Adam Pleskach, defensemen Mike McKee and Zach Todd, and goaltender Devin Williams all spent time in San Antonio participating in that club’s camp. Pleskach is set to begin his sixth straight season in Oilers blue this season, and he has always been a consistent threat offensively ever since he pulled on an Oilers sweater for the first time in 2013-14. iN 2014-15 Pleskach turned in a career-high 71-point season, scoring 41 goals with 30 assists.
Williams had an outstanding rookie season in the net for the Oilers last season. The former rookie from Saginaw, Michigan had 15 wins, 11 losses and 3OT decisions in his first season as a professional, with a 2.54 goals-against average and .920 save percentage in 38 appearances as a rookie in 2017-18. He made a splash early on, posting three wins in three nights earning him the ECHL goaltender of the month for October last year.
Two interesting storylines have emerged from this assembly of players. One story is that of a young rookie looking for his big break and another of a veteran out of the game for a number of years getting a potential second chance.
Bobby Watson, a forward hailing from the Tulsa suburb of Broken Arrow, joins the team for his first full season as a professional. Watson, 26, appeared in 13 games for the Oilers last season, had a remarkable first shift as a professional by scoring is first game practically the first time he touched the puck. In all, through those 13 games, the rookie scored a goal and an assist and spent two minutes in the penalty box.
Ian Keserich returns to the Oilers on a PTO contract for the training camp. Keserich, 31, returns to the Oilers after a five-year absence from regular goaltending, last seeing action in 2012 when he last played for the now-defunct Elmira Jackals. Prior to that, he was a star in the net for Tulsa, suiting up with the team from 2010-2012. Last season he was tabbed by Murray to play in a lat season game after Devin Williams went down with an injury.
His chances of making the team are possible, however unlikely, and it is expected that San Antonio will sen the team a goaltender to fill out the roster at some point during camp.
The preseason for the Oilers will consist of practices for the bulk of the next two weeks with a preseason game against the teams longtime rival Wichita on October 6. The season begins for Tulsa on October 13th at home in the BOK Center against Idaho on October 13th.
Tulsa Oilers Camp Roster
*Played in Tulsa last season.
**Assigned by AHL-San Antonio.
Forwards: Roman Ammirato*, Ben Blasko, Scott Cuthrell, Chris Francis, Alex Kromm, Ian McNulty, Adam Pleskach*, Peter Sivak, Ryan Tesink*, Bobby Watson*, Sam Wilbur*.
Defensemen: Dylan Bredo**, Eric Drapluk*, Cooper Jones, Steven Kaunisto, Mike McKee*, Adam Phillips, Kyle Rhodes**, Chad Thibodeau, Zach Todd.
Goaltenders: Ian Keserich***, Devin Williams*.