Oilers All About Defense Beginning New Season

Contributing Writer


Courtesy of BRAD BRUGGER

The Tulsa Oilers have begun their 2005-2006 campaign on the right foot, winning five of their first seven games, not by being a prolific goal scoring team, but by ranking near the top of the CHL in defense.

Head coach Butch Kaebel wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Defense wins championships,” says the coach, obviously relaxed and happy with the team’s start this season.

“The goal scoring will come around.”

Left-winger, center and the coach’s younger brother, Klage Kaebel, agrees with the Oiler head coach.

“Our defense has been really good,” says the younger Kaebel, “and as long as you play good defense you can win a lot of games.”

Last year’s NHL lockout has also contributed to the Oiler’s strong start defensively, bringing rookie goalie Chris King to Tulsa.

King had a contract to play for the Philadelphia Flyers, but then the entire season was cancelled, preventing him from playing for the NHL team.

King and well-traveled veteran, Marco Emond, are alternating every game in goal for the Oilers this season.

“Those two are playing just great in goal for us this season,” says Coach Kaebel “Both are in the top five in the league in the goals allowed statistics.”

The fact that they are splitting time in the net has not been a problem for the two goalies, according to the coach and his veteran goalie, Emond.

“They understand that it is all about the team, that one will start one night and the other will start the next,” he explains.

“There is no jealously or animosity between the two, and I believe they are both learning from each other and helping each other.”

Emond backs up his coach and further explains why he has no problem splitting time with a rookie.

“You can’t argue with success and so far both of us have been effective in our starts,” says Emond.

Espousing the team-first mentality, the goalie credits the Oilers defense with making his job easier in goal.

“We have good team chemistry this year,” explains Emond. “All of our guys work hard and they are willing to learn.”

“The defense has done a great job taking care of rebounds and clearing the puck from in front of the net, all of which makes my job easier.”

He also believes that he and King are different in the way they mind the net, making opponents deal with two unique styles of goalkeeping.

“He is younger, so he moves a lot faster in net than I do,” he says, “while I’ve been around a while, so I don’t have to work quite as hard.”

Coach Kaebel feels the two-goalie rotation has another advantage, which the team will benefit from toward the end of the season and in the playoffs.

“Players who play every night through the course of a long season can find it hard to get up for games when they are tired,” he explains. “I want my players to be fresh when we get into the playoffs.”

“I believe that rotating the guys in and out throughout the season will help to keep them fresher for the playoffs.”

The coach did not hesitate when asked what his expectations are for this year’s team.

“We won’t be happy with anything less than a championship,” he says. “The ownership expects it, I expect it and the team expects it.”

Updated 11-22-2005

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