Blue beats White in 3rd annual event.
The Tulsa Oilers have played hockey for nearly 70 years off and on. Indeed, the first puck dropped in the old Tulsa Coliseum on Elgin Avenue downtown in 1928. With the death of Sonny Wakeford a few years back there are none of those players left alive but there are plenty still around from the more modern versions and some of them gathered at the Oilers Ice Center on Mingo on Saturday night for the team’s annual alumni game.
The rich heritage of the modern era Tulsa Oilers was well represented in the game, with many players from the last championship team in 1993 lacing up the blades for the match. Tom Karalis, Taylor Hall and Sylvain "Sly" Naud played in the game, while Mike "Bullet" Berger went behind the bench to coach one of the teams. Their coach from the now legendary team, Garry Unger, also participated in the game and took a shot in the tie breaking shootout that decided the game. More recent Oilers greats like Todd Marcellus, Doug Pirnak, Dan Villenueve and Craig Lochhead also played in the game.
Current Oilers coach Bruce Ramsay played in the game, as did Todd Nelson, the coach of the Oklahoma City Barons also took the ice. As it turns out, Bruce Ramsay played and served as assistant coach for the coach of the newest team in the American Hockey League when Nelson coached the Muskegon Fury of the UHL. Many of Ramsay’s players from the 2009-2010 team skated in the game as well, Derek Eastman, Tyler Fleck, Marty Standish, Michel "Mike" Beausoleil, and even the newest signing for the Oilers 2010-11 squad, Gordon Bell took the ice.
A poignant moment in the game was at the very beginning when the father of the modern Central Hockey League, Ray Miron, now wheelchair-bound, performed the ceremonial face-off for the game between Garry Unger and Bruce Ramsay to start the game.
It’s a huge cliche’ but a great time was had by all. It was easy for the more jaded Oilers fans to dismiss the game as nothing more than a glorified all-star game designed to sucker the fans in for another so-so season of Oilers hockey, but this was the team tipping it’s hat to acknowledge the rich history of professional hockey in Tulsa and it’s contributions to the game as a whole. It also has the double function of signalling the start of the home stretch leading to the beginning of the 2010-2011 season in a little over a month and a half on October 15th.
Season ticket packages for the Oilers 19th season in the CHL are now on sale and more information can be obtained by calling 918-632-PUCK (7825) or by visiting tulsaoilers.com