Oilers Winning With Strong Offense


Thanks to T.J. Caig and Rob Hisey, the Tulsa Oilers have exploded offensively and are in pursuit of the Central Hockey League’s Northern Conference title.

Prior to a rib injury on Nov. 29, center Hisey was leading the league in scoring with right-winger Caig pursuing in second place. With Hisey out of the lineup, the Oilers dropped four straight games but still seem to have a virtual lock on reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2005.

“The team is doing very well and with team success comes individual success,’’ comments Hisey, 25, from Oakville, Ont. “I worked hard in the off season with my trainer and I started the year in pretty good shape. It transferred to the ice.’’
Hisey returned from Europe this season so his wife could have their first child at home. In the meantime, Hisey was invited to an American League camp and discovered a huge difference in the European and American professional approaches to the game.

‘’Here you have less time and space with the puck and you have to make decisions quicker,’’ he adds. “There is a lot more hitting with bigger, stronger guys. It was a bit of an adjustment.’’

Partnered with Caig at the beginning of the season, Hisey found there was much to like about Tulsa. An early scoring burst produced 32 points in 20 games with Caig one-point behind. Hisey and Caig were 1-2 in the league’s three stars race with Caig leading the league in power play goals and Hisey No. 1 in shorthanded scores.

The Oilers won seven straight games with both in the lineup before Hisey’s rib injury in a 3-1 loss at Texas that proved costly.

“Whenever you take out a player who’s earning two points a game and leads the league in scoring, it’s going to affect you,’’ says Oilers coach Bruce Ramsay. “You can’t replace a leading scorer with another leading scorer. He (Hisey) is very good on face offs and he plays in every critical situation.’’

Ramsay says Caig complements Hisey perfectly. Combined, the pair were plus-11 in the first 20 games and have helped the Oilers become offensively consistent. Now on different lines, the two have presented Ramsay with scoring depth.

“Now we’re getting consistent scoring from everybody,’’ Ramsay boasts. “Our power play units have been very successful. Caig has a great shot, great skill and he’s a bull in the corners. He does a great job of getting the puck to Hisey.’’
Hisey played for Ramsay briefly six years ago when the coach was at Port Huron in the International League. Caig, 28, from Kelowna, B.C., was said to have “great attributes’’ and Ramsay researched the gifted scorer.

For at least the first third of the season, the marriage of the two players proved to be a honeymoon period for the Oilers.

“He’s a great shooter and he can score goals if you get him the puck in front of the net,’’ Hisey tells of Caig. “I can see the ice pretty well and I’m a pretty good passer who can finish well. Most of my career I’ve been a setup man. Last year and this year I’m scoring more goals. I’ve improved my shooting and the coach has harped on me to shoot more.’’

Hisey’s offensive prowess has produced more visibility and he’s discovered with more goal-scoring fame comes a target on your back. The diminutive sniper receives constant checks and pressure from opponents resulting in aches and pains.

“I got cross checked in the ribs at Texas,’’ Hisey explains. “Once you get your name out there as one of the better teams in the league, they come to play against you every night. I enjoy being labeled a scorer. I like having that pressure on me. Most hockey players want to be in that situation. I’m out there to produce and I enjoy because it’s part of the game. I just want to get stronger, especially in my defensive play. Our goal is to stay on top and you can’t have highs too high and lows too low. We want to stay on an even keel and bet better everyday.’’
For Hisey, Caig and the Oilers, the offensive fire is still burning.

Updated 01-07-2010

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