Posted 2/29/12 (Wed)
By Corey Samuelson
Junior Gold Coach
The 2011-12 Watford City Oilers hockey season kicked off with an annual tournament on Thanksgiving weekend in Sidney, Mont. The excitement of a new high school hockey season was underway, but the many questions about the Oilers’ depth, youth, and experience would be the story line throughout the year.
With seven seniors gone from last season’s second place finish, six freshmen coming up from Bantams, and only two seniors, the Oilers were voted to be finished toward the bottom of the league.
The work ethic and willingness to learn was the key to our success so far this season. The Sidney tournament showed a lack of experience as the Oilers lost two of our first three games and getting out-scored, 23 to 11.
The second week in December was on everybody’s calendar when the Oilers traveled to their rival’s hometown, Sidney. The Oilers were defeated 7-1 but the players and coaches knew they would get a second chance at redemption in the second half of the season. With the season in full swing, the Oilers made their first trip to the east side of the state to play Grand Forks and Langdon.
The first game on Saturday was against the Grand Forks Stallions. With a rough first period, the Oilers were down 2-0 after one period, but with hard work and a chip on their shoulder, the Oilers fought back to a 5-5 tie. They would then go on to lose to the top-rated Langdon Blades.
The struggles continued throughout the first half of the season, but the second half of the season was a different story and a great way to end the regular season. The youth and lack of a senior-heavy team, the players were starting to understand the systems and that anybody can be beaten on any given day if they play within their systems.
On Feb. 11, the Oilers were at home playing the Crosby Comets, who were undefeated.
The Oilers got on the board first with Brandon Taylor finding the net early. Crosby would then answer back to even the score. With only seconds left in the first period the Oilers had retaken the lead with a snipe from the top of the circles. The Oilers went on to knock off the undefeated Crosby Comets in a thrilling fashion by a score of 4-2.
“That game will go down in Oiler history as one of the biggest upsets of all time,” stated Samuelson.
Feeling confident after their win against Crosby the Oilers went on to split their next two games against May-Port and Fargo.
The final regular season game had all the story lines of a great contest between the Watford City Oilers and the Richland Rangers. Not only was pride between these teams on the line, but a fifth seed slot at the state tournament. The building was packed and rocking because of the speed both teams showed. The game was filled with goals, big hits, and a fast-paced game. The Oilers went on to win the game, 8-2, and closed the regular season out by winning three of their last four games.
The Watford City Oilers are led by two seniors, Captain Jayden Grotte and Kalden Heggen followed by the juniors, Assistant Captain Brandon Taylor, Assistant Captain Alex Hansen, Assistant Captain Davis Zubke, Reese Frick, Katie Skarda, and Guy Ross. Filling out the roster is sophomore, Brandon Allex, and freshmen, Ted Ramage, Dalton Wright, Beau Heiser, Daniel Marmon, Jonathan Dunn and Wyatt Stall.
The Oilers are heading into the state tournament as a fifth seed and playing at 3 p.m. on March 2 against the Fargo Flames.