Oilers Daniel Amesbury a Tough Enforcer
By GLENN HIBDON
GTR Sports Writer
HOCKEY ENTERTAINER: Daniel Amesbury, left, plays hard for the Oilers and says that fighting is his job.
Courtesy Tulsa Oilers
Wrong or right, he’s here to fight, and if you wonder who he is, his name might as well be Daniel E. That’s an E for enforcer.
Tulsa Oilers forward Daniel Amesbury holds no punches when acknowledging he’s in town to pound down and put a frown on the Central Hockey League’s bad boys. At six feet and 210 pounds, he is a heavyweight fighter who won his first six bouts after joining the Central Hockey League team in late December.
“When I started hockey, I was intrigued by one aspect of the sport,’’ says the 22-year-old forward from Maple Ridge, B.C. “I grew up in a tight group of friends, and we always had each other’s backs. I always liked protecting my close friends, and it transferred over to the ice. I want to use fighting to make the next level.’’
Amesbury says he “likes to stick a straight right or left hook,’’ and boxing is a passion for him. His parents had other ideas and thought hockey might tame his temper a bit.
“I stuck with hockey and still ended up fighting,’’ says Amesbury, who led the Southern Professional Hockey League with 34 fighting majors last season. “Now my parents support me 110 percent. They’ve learned to accept it, and I call my mom after every fight to let her know I’m OK.’’
Oilers coach Bruce Ramsay brought Amesbury to Tulsa with one goal in mind and it wasn’t to cheer up and play nice with opponents. Ramsay expects the tough guy to deal out punishment to anyone who dares take liberties with his players.
“Daniel Amesbury is the kind of player we’ve been looking for and is tough to find,’’ Ramsay says. “He knows what he wants to do and he doesn’t expect to play a regular shift; he expects to fight. He makes our team better by giving us more confidence when we play against the tougher teams like Allen and Wichita. He’s there to protect our skilled players.’’
Ramsay says Amesbury is young and still learning the game. He said skating is a strength sport, and hitting and fighting are no brainers.
“He’s fought the toughest guys in the league and done well. I haven’t seen him lose a fight yet,’’ says Ramsay. “A lot of guys are bigger, but he’s strong and intelligent when using his fists.’’
Amesbury considers himself to be a balanced skater and he says snow boarding has helped him in that aspect of the game. He also believes he’s quick for his size, but needs improvement in stick skills. The fighting part of his game is a knockout.
“I love to fight. I’m not scared of anyone, and I’m not scared to take a punch,’’ Amesbury says. “I also like to do a little grappling after practice. I grappled with (Gary) Steffes, and in Columbus (Ga.) I grappled with my coach.
“I expect to fight and I know who the fighters are on other teams. I start fights by running around and making a lot of hits, but I don’t want to be considered a goon. That’s somebody who doesn’t have much respect for the game. I prefer to square up with a guy, and that makes it fair. I don’t start fights with a stick, and I don’t grab a guy and give cheap shots. I try to keep the game as clean as possible.’’
When Amesbury arrived in Tulsa, he was facing the unknown. He was in a higher league with untested opponents. He was a little apprehensive.
“I had a couple of close ones (fights) for sure, but I surprised myself,’’ he says. “Now I’m just getting better and better, and I’ll only get tougher from here on. I was pretty intimidated by (Erick) Lizon (Wichita). He had a really hard right hand, but I think I’ll do great against him next time.
“My fight with (Jason) Kostadine (Quad City) was pretty one sided. He jumped me, and near the end of the fight he was looking dazed and had cuts on his forehead and the bridge of his nose. A goon would have knocked him out, but I never want to hurt anybody.
It’s all combat with the Marquis of Amesbury rules.
“I’d love to score goals, but this (fighting) is my job,’’ he says. “This is me scoring goals when I get out there and get the crowd excited. Fighting is good for hockey and it brings in the fans. I’m an entertainer.’’