Recently Tulsa Junior Oilers Public Address Announcer Jim Douthat sat down with head coach Zac Desjardins to discuss the remainder of the WSHL Season.
With two weeks off and the next nine games at home, starting with the Long Beach Bombers on January 25th at the Oilers Ice Center, the Tulsa Junior Oilers look to climb up in the Mid-West Conference division standings. Sitting just two points behind the Jr. Thunder and eleven points behind the third place Dallas Snipers, Tulsa has a good chance of pulling themselves out of the cellar over the next three weeks. With a record of 4-5 at home, Head Coach Zac Desjardins embraces the two weeks off; “We’re able to get back and work on the fundamentals of defensive and offensive zone coverage…hoping for six or seven wins in the next nine home games”; with Wichita being three of those six or seven wins. “The second weekend in Witchita (Jan 30th, Feb 1-2) which is starting to be a big, big rivalry for us, and we need to take points from them”; points which may not be able to come by. All of us familiar with the story of David and Goliath please insert the overused cliche here.
Of the Jr Oiler’s seven wins this season, only one of them has come against Witchita. However with the addition of David Morong from the El Paso Rhinos, the first line has gotten a much needed shot of adrenaline. Morong, a 5’8″, 160lb. forward from the Czech Republic is playing on the first line, paired with Tulsa’s own Bobby Watson and either Jon Toth or Matt Winkle. This line has quickly jelled into a scoring tandem. When asked what skill set Morong brings to the team, he stated, “Points!” and he’s not lying. In the ten games wearing a Jr. Oiler sweater, Morong has racked up 6 goals and 4 assists. Something much needed as the push towards the post season continues.
Another welcome participant in the post season push is the return and physical presence of Jon Toth back in the line-up, after his unprecedented and “example setting” suspension by league officials. Team captain Trevor Ruiz stated; “Toth coming back is really a good thing, because we have another physical aspect out there…Andy Howard and myself like to get physical in the corners…and it’s nice to have somebody else out there to risk his body for the better of team.” Ruiz went on to stress the importance of not only the physical aspect, but the need for the team to be consistent down the stretch. “I am going to harp on consistency because it’s one of the biggest things that any hockey team needs…if your not consistent than it’s a roller coaster ride.”
The roller coaster Ruiz is refers to may be more like the “Screaming Eagle” at Six Flags than the “Zingo” at Bells as the Dallas Ice Jets invade the OIC in February. The final three games, of the nine game home stand, are against the Ice Jets who hold a commanding lead in the Mid-West Division and are second overall in league standings with a 29-2 record as of Jan. 19th. With a team of that caliber on your upcoming schedule it can be hard not to look ahead of that match up. Coach Desjardins was hesitant to agree however; “It’s tough to keep the guys focused, but I keep the guys focused on our team and one game at a time. Our rink is smaller, so there is no telling how Long Beach will play here and that is where our focus is right now.”
So with “Focus” , “Consistency”, “Points” and physical play as their backdrop, the final stretch in this inaugural season of the Tulsa Junior Oilers looks to be entertaining and heart stopping. With 12 of the final 18 games of the season at home, there are plenty of opportunities to see the professional stars of tomorrow shine brightly here in Tulsa today.
The Jr. Oilers next homestand is Friday January 25 versus the Long Beach Bombers at Oilers Ice Center.
General Admission tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for kids ages five and under. For more information call 918-632-PUCK