Ice Oilers, Youth Hockey Gearing Up for Season
By GLENN HIBDON
GTR Feature Writer
Only ten teams will compete for the Central Hockey League championship during the 2012-13 season. Playoff champion Fort Wayne, along with Evansville, have moved to the East Coast League. Dayton, Loredo and Rio Grande Valley folded. New to the league are the Denver Cutthroats and St. Charles (Mo.) Chill. St. Charles will begin play in 2013-14.
The is expected to have two five-team divisions with playoff qualifying changed from last season. So far, no official announcement has been made. The Oilers will play their first of 33 home games at the Center on Oct. 26. Tulsa will begin its 21st season in the and its fifth at the Center.
With the completion of renovations at the Tulsa Oilers Ice Centre, 64th Street and Mingo Road, the Oilers Alumni Game returned on Aug. 25, and youth hockey will open the season on time, leading to the Cup for high school teams this winter.
The Tulsa Junior Oilers of the Western States Hockey League will also suit up at the Ice Center and play 46 regular season games from late September through early March. Tulsa opens its inaugural season on the road against the Dallas Ice Jets on Sept. 22. The Junior Oilers home opener is slated for Oct. 12 at 5:30 p.m. against the Texas Junior Brahmas.
The Junior Oilers have added a pair of 18 year olds from Colorado to their roster. Forward Matt Winkle and defenseman Andy Howard have signed on.
The Oilers continue to sign players for the 2012-13 season. Coach Bruce Ramsay added depth on defense with the signing of Kyle Mariani. The 23 year old will be entering his second season of pro hockey after spending his rookie campaign with the Laredo Bucks. In 65 games last season, Mariani recorded six goals and seven assists.
“I was always impressed with Kyle when we played against Laredo last year,” says Ramsay. “He’s a solid defenseman who can contribute on the offensive end of the ice and I think he’s going to be a great addition to our team.”
Also under contract are Tyler Fleck, Ryan Cramer, Matthew Register, Matt Gingera, Nick Schneider, and rookies Kyle Kudrock, Anthony Bergin and Cody Esposito.
Fleck is a 13-year veteran defenseman who scored three goals with five assists in 66 games while anchoring the Tulsa blue liners.
“Because I was healthy throughout last season, I feel good, and I still feel like I can help this team and contribute,” says Fleck. “I know Rammer is going to bring in some new talent; we’ve got a good group of guys coming back, and it’s going to be an exciting year to be a Tulsa Oiler.”
Cramer re-signed with the Oilers after spending much of last season on the Oilers top line. He finished his first year of pro hockey with 17 goals and 21 assists.