Wednesday, December 9, 2009
That was definitely the case for the newest Oiler. Tanner Olstad, a 17-year-old centreman, was released from a hockey team in a different country and 43 hours later he was in the Oilers’ lineup for their 5-3 victory over the Calgary Royals on Dec. 1.
Olstad was released by the Tri-City Americans in Kenniwick, Wash. of the Western Hockey League after the team’s game on Nov. 28.
“Right after the game the owner pulled me into the office and told me that I was being sent down to Okotoks,” Olstad said. “I drove home to Calgary on Sunday and I had my first practice with the Oilers on the Monday.”
The Oilers have no affiliation with any WHL team, however, because the Oilers carded Olstad two years ago, the team had his rights to play in the AJHL.
Olstad admitted on Thursday the quick transition rocked his world.
“I said good-bye to my teammates, my billets and friends from school and went home and packed,” Olstad said. “I got up the next morning and drove home. I’m kind of dreaming a bit. I had no idea that I would be here right now. I’m just hoping it can work out for the best. I’m sure everything will turn out.”
Olstad was released in order for him to receive more playing time. He had one assist in the 10 games he played in with the Americans. Tri-City had played 33 games when Olstad was released.
“It will take some time to adjust to the team and a new school (Holy Trinity Academy), but I am sure it’s going to work out,” he said. “Down there it’s 45-minute classes and up here they are 80 — I have to concentrate more.”
While it is taking time to get accustomed in the classroom he is having no trouble fitting comfortably in the Oilers’ dressing room and on the ice.
“Right now I am just getting to know my teammates and the systems,” he said. “They seem to be a great group of guys.”
Olstad considers himself a playmaker and he has been given an opportunity to show his stuff with the Oilers. He was on a line between veterans John McInnis and Kyle Reynolds on Okotoks’ three-game road trip last weekend. McInnis is the team’s leading scorer while Reynolds is fourth.
Oilers GM-head coach Garry VanHereweghe wasn’t about to let the chance to have Olstad don an Okotoks jersey pass him by.
“I dealt with Bob Tory (Americans’ general manager) and I told him that we would have a card available if Tanner did become available,” VanHereweghe said. “We want to develop him to the best of our ability and after this year we will see what happens… We want to develop kids to help them get to the goals they want to, whether it be the Western Hockey League or college.”
Sandwiching Olstad between McInnis and Reynolds could work out as well as Alberta beef between two pieces of bread.
“He’s got tremendous speed and I think the line will have tremendous chemistry,” said VanHereweghe. “They all think the game the same way.”
He said the Oilers have been in need of a playmaker since James Bannister went down with an injury.
Although Olstad has had a cup of coffee in the Western Hockey League, he hasn’t closed his doors on playing hockey in a post-secondary school.
The WHL provides players scholarship funds for post-secondary schools. Canadian and colleges allow WHL players to play hockey in their programs.
However, because the Western Hockey League players receive financial stipends, there are restrictions on those players playing in the National Collegiate Athletic Association because they are deemed professionals. AJHL players do not receive any remuneration for playing hockey.
Friday, December 4, 2009
It’s a bit of an understatement. John McInnis’ironman streak sits at 91 games played without missing time due to injury, illness or even a healthy scratch. Oiler bench boss Gary VanHereweghe said as long as McInnis can lace up his skates, he’ll play.
“He’s the type of kid that doesn’t take no for an answer if it comes to playing time,” said VanHereweghe.
McInnis has tallied 86 points in 91 games played, a streak that began last season. As of Nov. 30, McInnis had 31 points in 29 games played this campaign.
“I hate missing games no matter what. I don’t think I’ve missed a game in probably four years,” said McInnis. Sick, hurt, tired, whatever McInnis said he just shakes it off and gets out there. Like a perpetual-motion machine, once McInnis is moving, he stays moving regardless of how under the weather he might feel.
“It’s kind of like a wall, once you get past it, you’re fine and you’re good for the rest of the game or practice,” said McInnis. Perhaps making the streak all that more impressive is the fact McInnis does not shy away from the most physical aspects of the game.
On two occasions VanHereweghe has seen McInnis flying in to rescue a teammate getting shoved around by an opponent. Watching his teammates getting roughed up is perhaps the one thing that sets McInnis off, otherwise he doesn’t seek out fisticuffs.
“I play with (Kyle) Reynolds and Hoogie (Brandon Hoogenboom), who are not the biggest guys on the team,” said McInnis.
A Plymouth, Mass., native, McInnis said he would like to return home after his tour of duty with the Oilers and skate for one of six major universities in the Boston area. “They are all over the place, I’ve talked to BC (Boston College) a little bit,” said McInnis.
VanHereweghe said McInnis is committed to his hockey and his leadership skills are apparent. All through his minor career McInnis has been a captain and even though he doesn’t wear the ‘C’ with the Oilers, he still looks upon himself as a leader with the club.
“As a 20-year-old guy I have to set the tone for some of the guys who really don’t know the way,” said McInnis.
2 December 2009 by Rick Northrop - Staff Reporter. The Western Wheel
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Such was the case on Friday night in St. Albert where the Oilers should have won. With the score tied 1-1 and about half way through the third period, and with the Oilers outplaying the Steel, James Bannister scores on the PP to put us up 2-1.
Everything all rosey right!. WRONG!!!
Two lazy penalties for holding late in the game gave St. Albert two powerplays in the last three minutes in the game and they score on both of them. 3-2 St. Albert final.
urrggg!!!! How frustrating for the team, letting a game slip through their fingers.
Yes, you win some and lose some during the season. It's always nice to win the games your shouldn't win, but ouch, it hurts to lose a game you should have won.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Oiler rookie Ben Gamache was the captain of the Notre Dame Hounds who won the Telus Cup as the best Midget AAA team in Canada last April in Selkirk, MB.
“Going into the Telus Cup we had nothing on our mind except to win,” Gamache said. “We ended up tying the first game to the Buffs (the Calgary Buffaloes). We knew we had a good chance to meet them in the final and so we had a pretty good idea what it would take to beat them.”
The Hounds shut out the Buffaloes 4-0 in the final and Gamache scored the final goal. “It was a real bonus to score that goal on TV with my family watching from back home,” said Gamache, who hails from Long Lac, ON.
Gamache had seven goals and three assists in the Telus Cup tournament and was selected the tournament’s top forward.
Attending the famed Notre Dame private school in Wilcox, SK was a rewarding experience for the Oiler freshman. “Notre Dame is really different than other Midget teams,” Gamache said. “You are always with the team — you eat with the team, you sleep with the team. You do everything with the team. “It really builds team bonding.”
He said hockey is No. 1 in Wilcox which is just south of Regina.
“It’s a small town —the school is bigger than the town,” Gamache said. “But people who have lived there for years know who you are because of the hockey teams. It’s a really nice community.”
Going to Notre Dame opened other doors for Gamache besides the swinging gate going onto the ice. “I now know people from Korea, Switzerland and from all over the world and these are non-hockey kids,” Gamache said.
However, when he made the jump to Junior A he chose Okotoks rather than remaining in Notre Dame, which has produced such players as Wendel Clark and Vincent Lecavalier.
“I talked to some guys who have played here — Corban Knight and Chris Duszynski,” Gamache said. “Corban told me it was a great organization. I did my research and I knew it was a great community.”
Gamache first became aware that he was on the Oilers’ radar when he talked to the team’s head of scouting Jay Magnussen at the Mac’s Midget Tournament last December. The Oilers were able to close the deal after former coach Dan MacDonald and Magnussen saw Gamache play at the Western Regionals in Moose Jaw.
“I got a phone call asking me to give Okotoks a shot and I didn’t hesitate,” Gamache said. “Notre Dame tried hard to get me to stay my last month of school, but I thought Okotoks was a better choice for me at this time.”
New Oiler coach and GM Garry VanHereweghe said he is delighted to be reaping the benefits of MacDonald’s and Magnussen’s hard work in recruiting Gamache.
“Any time you get a player off a national champion it will pay dividends,” VanHereweghe said. “Kids who come out of Notre Dame are very disciplined and they are also used to being away from home.”
The Oilers have had success in the past with recruits from Notre Dame as former Oiler Andrew Owsiak, who is now playing at Dartmouth, also played Midget at Notre Dame.
VanHerewghe said Gamache is tenacious and battles in the corner and is not afraid to do the dirty work in front of the net.
“He has to work on his speed — his first two strides. He has to work on his acceleration,” VanHereweghe said. “But he has a good work ethic and it will come.
“I’m not afraid to use him in any situation.” Gamache has two goals and one assist with the Oilers this year.
By Bruce Campbell
Monday, October 12, 2009
The new coach has instilled a new vigar into this team. Was it that the guys gave up on Dan?? Lets hope not, but whatever happened, I hope it continues.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
After the Alberta Junior Hockey League club announced the firing of former head coach and general manager Dan MacDonald on Monday, VanHereweghe immediately took over. He had spent two years at the club’s helm from 2005-07 and was put to work again Monday evening as the Oilers paid a visit to the Calgary Canucks at the Max Bell Centre.
“For whatever reason, the chemistry just wasn’t there between the players and the team,” said VanHereweghe, who worked as the Oilers’ director of player personnel before leaving to work a security position on a U.S. cruise line. “If you look back at Dan’s last two seasons, certainly you’d have to say they were successful. Second place finish and certainly very high points in both seasons. Well, well above the .500 record.
“You have to look at where they’re at (now) . . . obviously, there will be some tinkering done.”
In two seasons with the Oilers, MacDonald, hired in the summer of 2007, led the team to an 84-30-3-7 regular-season record and to the post-season twice. In 2008, the group was eliminated in the first round by the Drumheller Dragons; 2009 saw the Oilers bow to the Olds Grizzlies in the second round. Heading into Monday’s game, the group was 3-6 — second last in the AJHL’s south division ahead of the Calgary Royals (1-7).
“This has been a very difficult decision for the Oilers’ board of directors, but it was felt that the hockey club was not progressing and the change was necessary,” said Oilers president Wayne Lauinger. “Dan has worked extremely hard during his tenure with the Oilers and has positively affected the lives of many aspiring hockey players.”
Monday, October 5, 2009
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
It's great to have hockey back in season, even though it tells you that the cold weather is coming.
The boys are just finding their legs and getting use to the rookies in the line-up. On Friday night (Sept 18) there were 7 rookies on the ice.
Good to see Chris Duszynski awarded the C. Wearing the A were Quinn Sproule and Brandon Hoogenboom.
Will post here once in a awhile. Our main writings will be on the Oilers official website.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
After a very successful year of the WMBL Dawgs, the season ended in a very anti-climatic way. Sure, we still call our team champions, and rightfully though, but we wanted to win the proper way. Well, maybe next year.
We are now at the Okotoks Centennial Arena watching our hockey boys fight for a position on the Oilers team. Kind of strange to be sitting in the stands with shorts and sandels at this time of year.
We look forward to a good season with the guys putting out a good effort everytime they step on the ice. Personally, I don't think they will be as high in the standings as in the past, but I've eaten my words on many occasions before.
So Go Oilers Go.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Left to right: Manny Kumar, Brett Thomas, Alex Jensen, Jeff Duda
They split the first two games of the series.
They felt the same sense of frustration as the rain fell.
And now the Melville Millionaires and Okotoks Dawgs will have to share
the one thing they wanted for themselves — the Western Major Baseball League championship.
“It’s sort of hard for the players to take,” said Dawgs manager A.J.
Fystro of the WMBL’s decision to declare the teams co-champions due to the weather, field conditions and travel issues.
“We hope that these guys are going to realize that this was a championship season. In my mind, this is definitely a championship. This is definitely a three-peat.”
The Dawgs, winners of the last two WMBL championships, headed to
Melville, Sask., Friday with the series tied at 1-1. But rain made conditions
at Melville’s Pirie Field unplayable Saturday and again Sunday.“We were in the dugout when (Sunday) night’s game was called,” said Fystro. “There were lakes all over the infield.”
Because many of the Okotoks and Melville players were due to return to
U.S. colleges today, the league set an absolute deadline of Monday night for the series to be concluded. Travelling back to Okotoks was ruled out
due to the 10-hour bus journey — and how it would affect players who had
flights booked for Tuesday morning. And with Monday’s forecast for Melville looking bleak, the WMBL executive called an emergency meeting late Sunday night.
“We had really run out of options,” said WMBL president Merv Ozirny,
who added that, ironically, conditions in Melville on Monday may have been good enough to play a deciding game.
“I don’t think anybody’s particularly happy. I think (both teams) are content it’s the best possible option given the circumstances. They will share the trophy.”
Dawgs players were still trying to get their heads around what had
transpired as they travelled back to Alberta on the team bus Monday.
“It’s definitely not how we planned it, but we deserve to be champions,” said catcher Brett Thomas. “We did everything in our control to be the best team in this league.”
For Thomas and a handful of other Dawgs, the decision didn’t
just mark the end of their season, it signalled a probable end to their
“I think all the third-year guys are going to be done. There’s six or seven of us", said pitcher Alex Jensen. “We were (part of) the first group in
Okotoks. It’s kind of like the end of an era.”
It’s not the first time in WMBL history that the championship has been shared by two teams. Back in 2002, in very similar circumstances, Moose Jaw and — you’ve guessed it — Melville were declared co-champions.
But with any luck, this year’s co-champions might be the last. Ozirny said the league plans to discuss bringing forward the date for next year’s championship series to ensure unforeseen circumstances don’t force the league to declare a winner or winners.
As the Dawgs prepared to celebrate with fans at Seaman Stadium
late Monday night, Jensen said his initial sense of disappointment has
been replaced with the realization that this year’s team, considered by some to be less talented than the championship teams of 2008 and 2007, has still achieved something remarkable.
“I think it’s right up there with the other (championships),” said
Jensen, who was part of the two previous championship-winning
teams. “We didn’t get the dog pile on the field or (parade) the trophy
like we did the last two years. But the nice part is that each year we’ve had great team chemistry and this group is right up with the rest of them in terms
of having fun with each other and winning games.”
Thomas said he’s determined to make sure the way the championship series ended doesn’t leave a bitter taste in his mouth.
And, as he pointed out, there are worse things than being named co-champions after spending two days staring up at the sky.
Like, you know, spending three days staring up at the sky.
“We are happy to get out of Melville,” he said, laughing.
Photograph by: Ted Rhodes, Calgary Herald
Sunday, August 2, 2009
To the southwest, beyond the neatly-manicured grass and right-field wall, you can see the Rocky Mountains looming in the distance. Inside the stadium, there are kids playing baseball on a grassy hill using an empty water bottle as a bat and a rolled up hot-dog wrapper as a ball.
As the home team takes to the field for its pregame warm-up, fans welcome one another the way old friends do. The weather is idyllic; John Mellencamp’s Small Town is serenading the house.
Is this heaven? No, its Okotoks, an Alberta town of 17,000 that has never had a baseball team to call its own until the Dawgs of the Western Major League bounded south from Calgary to the heart of the Sheep River Valley. That was three years ago.
Since then, the Dawgs have captured the hearts of the locals by winning a pair of WMBL titles and proving baseball can thrive in a province known primarily for its other pursuits: hockey, football, rodeo and ranching.
“We had some success in Calgary, but it’s a big city,” said John Ircandi, the Dawgs managing and founding partner. “You have an NHL and a CFL team and there’s not a baseball culture. … We’re building a baseball culture here.”
Baseball has been reinvigorating itself in Alberta’s sporting landscape for close to a decade now. Prior to that there were the ubiquitous Little League and senior men’s leagues as well as Triple-A affiliates in both Calgary and Edmonton. (The Cannons and Trappers now exist as the Golden League’s Vipers and Capitals, respectively.)
But the prevailing sentiment was: Not enough was being done to nurture younger players.
That’s changed now. There are high schools in both Calgary and Edmonton that cater to baseball-playing student athletes. There are academies throughout the province, from St. Albert to Vauxhall, that take in more than 20 athletes and hone their baseball skills through coaching, practices and up to 75 games a season.
Les McTavish, who played at Washington State University and has coached
Canada’s national junior team, heads the Vauxhall Academy and pointed to its graduation statistics as proof of how much potential the game has in this half of the country.
“We graduated 36 kids in the last three years and all 36 have gone to college baseball,” McTavish said. “We’ve had six guys from our program drafted by major-league teams – four current, two former.
“I came through the system in the 1990s and there was [pitcher] Chris Reitsma, but there wasn’t much past that,” McTavish added. “Now, kids can see a Dale Anderson or a Steven Inch, who were both drafted this year [by the Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies, respectively] and they can say, ‘I can make it, too.’ It inspires them.”
What the Okotoks Dawgs have done has been inspiring on several fronts.
Business-wise, the team is as polished as a well-turned double play.
Ircandi, a Calgary lawyer and baseball aficionado, oversaw the construction of Seaman Stadium, so named after its two benefactors Don Seaman and the late Doc Seaman, who was also an original owner of the NHL’s Calgary Flames.
The two-year-old ballpark is a gem, with 1,650 major-league-style seats, a
family viewing area on a grassy hill, a big-time video scoreboard plus “a
full-service Press Box featuring home and visitors media rooms.”
Overall cost: $8-million.
Last season, the team’s ability to average 1,825 fans per game earned it a
sterling acknowledgement from Ballpark Biz, a U.S. sports consulting firm
which dubbed the Dawgs “the No. 1 draw, professional or otherwise, in the
province of Alberta, the No. 1 collegiate draw in Canada and among the top-10 summer collegiate draws in North America.”
“A lot has to do with the community,” said Ircandi, who took the team out of the big city and transplanted it here not knowing if it would take root.
“Sure, it was a gamble. Okotoks never had a baseball team before. But the team really grabbed [the opportunity] and created an incredible sense of pride.It’s been a collision of things.”
On the field, the Dawgs are made up of college players, including one from
Kentucky, three from Colorado, nine from California and 13 from across Canada. They play in the WMBL until mid-August, then return to their schools.
They receive no salary for their efforts, although their travel costs and room and board are covered. Like junior hockey players, they are billeted with volunteer families, which has also helped strengthen the bond between the team and its community and allowed the Dawgs to enhance their operation.
“We’re a non-profit business,” Ircandi said. “Any money we get we’re putting back into the club. In part, that’s how we built the Rose Field House.”
Next to Seaman Stadium’s right-field seating area stands the latest addition to Okotoks baseball, a $2-million in-door training facility that features a regulation-sized infield with artificial turf. Players can work out in the weight room, receive medical treatment and will eventually have their batting swings analyzed through a computer program that can compare their mechanics,via a split-screen, to Manny Ramirez of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Not surprisingly, the two local midget Triple-A baseball teams (Grades 10 to 12) have benefited from the available resources and are ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the province. To paraphrase the concept, Ircandi and his staff are taking puppies and turning them into Dawgs. The WMBL couldn’t be happier.
“This league started over 50 years ago in Saskatchewan,” commissioner Keith Jorgensen said. “It evolved for a time, then it just about died. In the late 1990s, we were down to four teams. Now, we have 11 and there are two more groups talking to us about coming in. … What they’ve done in Okotoks has contributed to that.”
On this spectacularly sunny day, the Dawgs outlast the Lethbridge Bulls, then auction off their jerseys to support the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. The final tally is a $22,000 donation.
It is another indication of how much baseball matters here and how the game can blossom in the most unlikely of places. Ircandi says it felt good right from the first pitch.
“The former mayor of Okotoks told me, ‘I knew it would work for us after
watching the opening-night game.’ We had a double rainbow [in the sky] that night framing the [grassy hill]. And at the end of the game, we had the kids run the bases with our mascot. Everything just came together,” he said.
“We’re establishing something; we really are.”
OKOTOKS, ALTA. — Globe and Mail
Thursday, July 30, 2009
The Okotoks Junior A Oiler who scored the first goal in the team’s history now has a new goal with the club — putting fannies in the seats at the Centennial
Former Oiler Dallas Hand has rejoined the organization as the team’s
new marketing manager.
“My job is selling tickets, advertising, organizing golf tournaments and
trying to get more people in the stands at the Centennial Arena,” Hand
said. “I have a lot of plans in my head right now.”
Hand has a minor in sports management and a major degree in marketing
at the New England College in New Hampshire, where he played for two years and coached for another. It was his one-year stint with the Oilers in 2005-06 that got his foot in the door to play college hockey.
“Playing with the Oilers basically got me into New England,” Hand
said. “The coaching staff did a great job of helping me out with the program.
Garry (VanHereweghe) was the main one who got me into it.” VanHereweghe was the Oilers’ first coach and is now the player
Hand came to the Oilers as a 20-year-old after playing for the Rimbey
Colts of the Heritage Junior B Hockey League. He was a long shot to make the
club, but his strong pre-season forced the Oilers to keep him on the
roster. They are certainly glad they did as Hand made an excellent first
impression in Junior A hockey.
He made history when he slipped a puck past Sherwood Park Crusader goalie
Trevor Peeters on Sept. 9, 2005 at the Murray Arena.“It was a greasy rebound goal,” Hand said with a laugh. “All I really remember was that we won the game.
Hand did whatever was asked of him in his time with the Oilers. He
started out as a forward but also had a stint on the blueline when injuries
took their toll on the team. “I was all over the place that year. It was more or less wherever they needed me, I played there,” Hand said.
His dedication to the team and community resulted in Hand being named the first recipient of the Mr. Oiler Award. Hand admits he might have to wear a few hats in his first year working with the Oilers and he credits his predecessor Greg Davenport with creating a strong foundation from which he can work. However, Hand is starting his new gig like he was down a goal — he’s battling harder times. “It is an easy sell because it is such a good product,” Hand said. “Some of the businesses have had to cut back because of the economic situations over the past two years and that is understandable.”
Although Hand won’t recognize any of the players in the Oilers’ locker room, he’s found out that sometimes the more things change the more the stay the same. “I am really excited to be back in Okotoks,” Hand said “Right
now, I’m living next door to one of my old billets.” His former billet — Greg Davenport, the man he replaced as marketing manager.
By Aaron Carr
Friday, July 24, 2009
Playoffs begin on Friday, July 31 and while their first round opponent is not final, it looks to be Saskatoon or Moose Jaw.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Dallas played with Okotoks in the 2005/06 season amassing 14 goals and 16 assists in 59 games.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
The Okotoks Oilers play 5 preseason contests starting with a home game Tuesday, September 1st against the Calgary Canucks and a second home game on September 3rd against the Olds Grizzlys.
The Oilers also play 3 road preseason games on Wednesday September 2 against the Calgary Canucks, Friday, September 4th against the Calgary Royals and they wrap up the preseason on Saturday in Olds against the Grizzlys on September 5th.
The Oilers play 10 regular season home games on Friday nights. The second most popular night for home games is Tuesday and Saturday nights with 7 games on each night. No home games are scheduled for Wednesday nights.
The Okotoks Oilers start the season on Saturday, September 12th. with 2 games on the road, then they return home Friday, September 18th for the home openner against the Olds Grizzlys.
The full schedule will be on the official Okotoks Oilers website soon.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Good home crowds of around 2000 per game are enjoying the great summer nights and a great baseball atmosphere at Seamans Stadium.
With the regular season about 1/3 completed, you can't put off not coming out to a ballgame.
It's good to see many of our AJHL Okotoks Oilers fans out to the Dawgs games.
The Okotoks Parade held this past Saturday had both of our sports teams parading down the street. Here's a few pictures from the parade.
Okotoks Dawgs pic here
Okotoks Oilers pic here
Till later, Batter up!!!!
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Friday, June 5, 2009
The Okotoks Dawgs opened the 2009 season on a cool, drizzly night at Seaman stadium. While they lost 8-3 to the visiting Lethbridge Bulls, it was a fun night.
Pretty well a sell-out, it was good to see some of our old baseball buddies such as Reid, Joanne, Dave and of course, our hockey fans too.
There are 23 home games. We are missing tonights game (game 2 against Edmonton) because of the John Fogerty concert, but will be back to the diamond on Saturday, weather permitting.
Here's a nice Calgary Herald picture of Dawgs starting picture Jeff Duda from last night.
Monday, June 1, 2009
The only major change is the following;
The 2009-2010 AJHL Regular Season Schedule will consist of 16 teams playing an unbalanced schedule of 60 games apiece beginning on Friday, September 11th, 2009. The AJHL Board of Governors voted to remove two regular season games from the schedule at the 2009 Semi Annual Meeting in January.
The League will continue with the same Playoff format as used in the 2009 AJHL Playoffs; the format is up for renewal in the 2010-2011 season. In 2010, the AJHL will grant home ice advantage to the Division Champions throughout the AJHL Playoffs.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Kyle Reynolds has a lot of friends in hockey. He grew up in Sylvan Lake and is a close friend of Brandon Sutter. He knows the Russell brothers from Caroline. He played Midget AAA hockey on a powerhouse team in Red Deer with Nick Bell, Marc Boulanger and Corey Campbell. But he is taking his own path up the hockey ladder. While Sutter is trying to break in as a regular with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes and Kris Russell is playing in the NHL with Columbus, Reynolds has found a home with the Okotoks Oilers of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. It’s a happy home and Reynolds is glad to be there. And as he looks around the Oiler dressing room, he sees Bell’s stall and another one belonging to Rodger Craig who also came out of the Red Deer program.
Of course, if he walked down the corridor to the dressing room of the Olds Grizzlies, he’d also find stalls belonging to Boulanger and to Campbell, both of whom are integral parts of the Grizzlies drive to win the AJHL title. Right now, the long time friends are keeping their distance because they are locked in a tense seven game series. .
“It’s going to be a long tough series because our styles are similar,” Reynolds noted. “I think they beat us four of the six times we played this season. We’re going to have to be strong in our own end and chip pucks out of the zone off the wall. And we have to move the puck with speed which I think is something we do well.”
It’s a style of play that suits Reynolds very well. The 5’9, 160 lb left winger isn’t shy about playing along the boards or going to the heavy traffic areas in front of the net. It’s how he’s been able to produce 20+ goals in his first season in the league. It’s why he regularly finds his name in the penalty area of the scoresheet, not just in the columns for goals and assists.
“He’s been a good addition to our lineup,” his coach, Dan MacDonald, told me. “He’s part of a real good group that joined our program this season. And he’ll be back for another season before, hopefully, he gets an NCAA scholarship.”
That’s Reynolds’ game plan. He’s finished Grade 12 and is spending this season working on his game. He also helps out at a hockey school in Black Diamond where he has to take what he knows and translate it into something the youngsters in his class can understand. What he’s learned about the game is thanks in large part to his decision to join the Oilers, a decision which was made two seasons before he arrived.
“I was here as a 15 year old and came back at age 16,” he told me. “I didn’t make the team so I went back and played Midget AAA in Red Deer. But I’ve always been impressed with the coaching and the way the Oilers’ organization operates. “I’ve learned a lot and I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve spent here and the players I’m playing with. I want to come back and have another good season next year. And hopefully, I’ll be able to earn a scholarship and get my education paid for after next season. There are a couple of schools interested. I’d like to play as long as I can. But if things don’t work out on the ice, at least I’ll have a good education to fall back on for the rest of my life.”
By Peter Watts
Corban Knight of the Okotoks Oilers is the Ramada AJHL Player of the Week for the week of February 16th – 22nd, 2009. Knight tallied 2 goals and 7 assists in 4 games over the week. Knight extended his point streak to 7 games and 15 points.
Knight leads all AJHL Rookies in scoring with 72 points in 61 games and is currently 8th overall in the League Scoring Race.
18 year old forward Corban Knight has signed a letter of intent and committed to the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux, of the WCHA, in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Knight received a tryout for Team Canada West at the 2008 World Junior ‘A’ Challenge and recently participated in the 2009 AJHL All-Star Game. Knight recorded 3 points as a member of the South Division All Star Team.
The AJHL is proud to partner with Ramada Worldwide to recognize the AJHL Player of the Week for the remainder of the 2008-2009 AJHL Season. Ramada Worldwide is a global presence, with over 850 locations in 35 countries. Whether guests are looking for a full-service experience or simply a convenient, affordable stop in their travels, they’ll find a Ramada hotel perfectly suited to fit their needs.
Ramada AJHL Player of the Week
January 5 - 11, 2009: Jared Jagow, Lloydminster Bobcats
January 12 - 18, 2009: Chris Markiewicz, Brooks Bandits
January 19 - 25, 2009: Brance Orban, Olds Grizzlys
January 26 - 31, 2009: Reese Rolheiser, Sherwood Park Crusaders
February 2 - 8, 2009: Jordan Draper, Spruce Grove Saints
February 9 - 15, 2009: Jarret Granberg, Brooks Bandits
February 16 – 22, 2009: Corban Knight, Okotoks Oilers
The Okotoks Oilers are pleased to announce that 18 year old forward Derek Rodwell has committed to the University of North Dakota (Fighting Sioux) of the WCHA in Grand Forks, North Dakota for the 2010 season.
Derek is from Taber, Alberta, where he played his minor hockey before joining the Lethbridge Midget AAA Titans of the AMHL for the 2006/07 season. He enjoyed a successful rookie season with the Okotoks Oilers in 2007/08, and early this season Derek was chosen to represent Canada at the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge, as a member of Team Canada West.
Oilers GM/Head Coach Dan MacDonald states, “Derek is a quiet, sincere, dedicated team player, who has matured into one of the best power forwards in Canadian Junior ‘A’ hockey. His continued development will most assuredly see him playing at the highest level of hockey. The Okotoks Oilers are extremely proud of Derek’s accomplishments and wish him every success with his future scholastic and hockey plans.”
Derek is the sixth Oiler so far this season to commit to an NCAA Division 1 scholarship. He joins Sean Cahill (University of Alaska Fairbanks), Rodger Craig (Cornell), Tyler Matthews (Niagara), Corbin Knight (University of North Dakota), and Quinn Sproule (University of Alaska Anchorage) as the other Oilers.
Derek Rodwell and Corbin Knight will join former Oiler goaltender Brad Eidsness, who is enjoying an outstanding rookie season with the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux this year.
The Okotoks Oilers are pleased to announce that 18 year old defensemen, Quinn Sproule, has committed to the NCAA Division 1 University of Alaska Seawolves, of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, in Anchorage, Alaska, for the 2010 season.
Quinn is from Hussar, Alberta, and joined the Oilers this season after a very successful 2007/08 season with the Strathmore based UFA Bisons Midget AAA Hockey Club, of the Alberta Midget League, where Quinn was selected a South Division All Star.
The Oilers General Manager/Head Coach Dan MacDonald stated, “Quinn is a rare hockey commodity at this level. He is capable of playing and excelling at either the defense or forward positions. His versatility, leadership, and physical play are the qualities that have made Quinn a reliable contributor to the overall success of the Oilers this season. The Oilers Hockey Club wishes Quinn every success with his future scholastic and hockey plans.”
Quinn will join former Oiler, Curtis Leinweber, who played two outstanding seasons (2006-2008) with the Oilers before joining the Seawolves this season.
The Okotoks Oilers announce that 18 year old forward Corban Knight has signed a letter of intent, and committed to the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux, of the WCHA, in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
Corban is from High River, Alberta, where he played his minor hockey before starring with the UFA Bisons, of the AMHL, from 2006 to 2008. Corban’s transition to Junior ‘A’ hockey with the Oilers was immediate as a rookie; he established himself early as an offensive threat and continues to lead the Oilers in scoring with 57 points. His play also resulted in an early Category B selection on the NHL’S Central Scouting list, a tryout for the 2008 World Junior ‘A’ Challenge Team West, and recently he was voted to the AJHL South Division All Star team.
Okotoks Oilers GM/Head Coach, Dan MacDonald, stated “Corban is an offensive gem who gets better with every shift. He is a perceptive student of the game and his continued development will see him star with the Fighting Sioux. The Okotoks Oilers congratulate him on his accomplishments and wish him well with his future academic and hockey endeavors.”
When Knight makes his move to the University of North Dakota hockey program, he will be joining former Oiler, Brad Eidsness, who is in his first season with the Fighting Sioux.
Corban is the fourth player from the Oilers program to accept a scholarship this season. He joins Sean Cahill (University of Alaska Fairbanks), Rodger Craig (Cornell University), and Tyler Matthews (Niagara).
The Okotoks Oilers take pride in announcing that 18 year goaltender, Sean Cahill, has committed to the University of Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks, of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Sean is from Calgary, Alberta, where he played his minor hockey and in 2008 graduated from the Calgary Buffalo Association. During Sean’s last season with the Calgary Midget AAA Buffaloes, his play was instrumental in leading the Buffaloes to represent the West at the Canadian Midget Telus Cup Championship. Sean joined the Oilers this season and quickly established himself as one of the outstanding rookies in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. His excellent play resulted in an invitation to try out for the 2008 World Junior ‘A’ Challenge Cup Team West, and he has recently been selected as an AJHL South Division All-star.
The Oilers General Manager/Head Coach Dan MacDonald, stated, “Sean is an extremely disciplined student of the goaltending position, and his consistent play is a contributing factor for the overall success of the Oilers hockey club this season. The Okotoks Oilers wish him continued success with his future plans.”