By GLENN HIBDON
GTR Sports Writer
FIRST ANNUAL CHAMPS: The Redskins Hockey Club won the first annual GTR Cup at the BOK Center last year in a thrilling 2-1 defeat of Broken Arrow. The local high school hockey teams look forward to this season’s GTR Cup, which will again be played at the BOK Center.
With construction continuing on the newly renovated Tulsa Oilers Ice Center, the Tulsa Youth Hockey Association () season has been placed on hold. Caught in the middle is the second annual Cup, moved from mid-December to Feb. 11-12 at the Center.
Justin Lund, general manager of the Ice Center, said the building is expected to be open sometime in December, but Jim Douthat, public relations director of the , said the high school season may not start until January.
“Everything is pushed back,’’ says Douthat. “We are hoping to start practicing in mid-December and there won’t be any games until January because of the holidays. We have to have practice time and ice time for the kids to get their teams together.’’
Construction began in August to repair broken piping underneath the concrete at the Ice Center, located at 6413 S. Mingo Rd.
“The sub-soil heating system broke, and we had to dig and remove seven feet of frozen dirt,’’ says Lund. “The old concrete had to be broken up and new pipes and dirt put in. The concrete has been laid and it’s in the process of curing. That takes 20 days before ice can be made on it.’’
New dasher boards are also being installed and the building is undergoing a refurbished look. Lund said a grand opening will be held when the facility is ready for use.
Meanwhile, both the Oilers and youth hockey have suffered from the lack of ice time. The Oilers were forced to hold preseason camp in Oklahoma City and Wichita. The teams get no ice time.
“Some of the kids are skating with the travel teams, going to Oklahoma City, Atlanta or Dallas,’’ Douthat says. “To get practice time they have to go to Wichita or Springdale, Ark. I know the Oilers had to get on a bus at 6 a.m. to drive to Oklahoma City.
Douthat said Tulsa high schools will still play 15 to 18 games, including the Cup and the playoffs. The Cup will once again include Union, Jenks, Broken Arrow and the Tulsa Twisters, formerly the Comets.
“Everybody has been inconvenienced by this, but there will be a big improvement (in the Ice Arena),’’ says Lund. “The new dasher boards are top of the line and we will do cosmetic work inside the building and the lobby.’’
Douthat said the Cup is looking to expand every year, hoping to attract teams from Oklahoma City, Wichita, Kansas City and other surrounding cities.
“The first year we were happy to get it off the ground, but our numbers in little kids is very strong and in the future that translates to the high school programs,’’ says Douthat. “We would like to get out of state teams to come. Bruce Ramsay (Oilers coach) said that it (the Ice Center) will be top notch. We’re excited about it and I know the kids are excited.‘’