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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Why Do We Care About The Stockton Thunder? (ECHL)

The Stockton Thunder is an ECHL team that has an affiliation (*not yet confirmed for this upcoming season*) with both the Edmonton Oilers (NHL), and the Oklahoma City Barons (AHL) Here is why the Thunder are glad for their affiliations.

Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers, one of the most storied teams in hockey history, extended its affiliation agreement with the Stockton Thunder in the summer of 2009 after the Thunder advanced to the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the third consecutive season, increased a total of four alum that have advanced onto the NHL and produced eight ECHL All-Star selections in three seasons.

For the fifth (**not yet confirmed**) consecutive season, Stockton will serve as the AA minor-league affiliate for Oilers prospects. Since the Thunder and Oilers began their partnership in 2006-07, the Thunder has advanced to the Kelly Cup Playoffs (edit) four* consecutive years and four former Thunder players - right wing Troy Bodie, center Tim Sestito, left wing Liam Reddox and defenseman Bryan Young - have gone on to play in the NHL.

Sestito made his NHL debut with the Oilers last season on Nov. 26 against the Los Angeles Kings. The 6-foot, 195-pound forward played in 66 games for the Thunder in 2006-07, ranking second on the club with 132 penalty minutes while scoring 26 points (13g-13a). Sestito, who wore the "C" as captain for the Springfield Falcons of the AHL last year, helped guide the Thunder to the first Kelly Cup Playoff berth in team history during 2006-07 and scored three points (2g-1a) in six playoff games, ranking tied for second on the team in playoff scoring.

Bodie debuted with the Anaheim Ducks on Jan. 16 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The 6-foot-4, 219-pound forward was originally selected by the Oilers in the ninth round (278th overall) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft and skated in 46 games for the Thunder in 2006-07, ranking second on the club with 21 goals while amassing 38 points (21g-17a) and 80 penalty minutes. Bodie added two assists in six Kelly Cup Playoff games and represented the Thunder in the 2007 ECHL All-Star Game in Boise, Idaho.

In total, seven Thunder players, including two who have been selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft, have been named to play in the ECHL All-Star Game in the last three years while in the Oilers farm system. Goaltender Devan Dubnyk, a first-round selection of the Oilers (14th overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, set Thunder single-season records in 06-07 for wins (24), minutes played (2,529), lowest goals-against-average (2.56) and save percentage (.921). Dubnyk made a game-high tying 17 saves in the second period of the 2007 ECHL All-Star Game for the National Conference.

Center Ryan O'Marra, who was selected in the first round (15th overall) by the New York Islanders in the 2005 draft and an Oilers trade acquisition in 2006-07, was originally named to the National Conference squad at the 2008 Chase Chevrolet ECHL All-Star Game shortly before earning a recall to Springfield of the American Hockey League. O'Marra scored 20 points (11g-9a) in 24 games with the Thunder last year and added nine points (2g-7a) in six Kelly Cup Playoff games.

Last year, Thunder forwards Cory Urquhart and Ryan Huddy played under AHL contracts with Springfield and were named to the National Conference all-star team. Huddy, whose father Charlie previously was an assistant coach and was a member of five Stanley Cup champion teams with the Oilers as a defenseman, led the Thunder with a club record 73 points (35g-38a) and 35 goals in 69 games, ranking ninth overall and third in ECHL rookie scoring.

Urquhart's 60 points (28g-32a) and 28 goals in 57 games paced second on the Thunder in both categories, adding a team-high tying five game-winning goals. His 16 points (10g-6a) and 10 goals in 14 postseason games broke Thunder playoff scoring records in both categories last season.

The Oilers, a member of the NHL's Western Conference and Northwest Division, have been a member of the National Hockey League since the 1979-80 season. A winner of five Stanley Cup Championships (1983-84, 1984-85, 1986-87, 1987-88 and 1989-90), the Oilers became the NHL's first-ever eighth playoff seed in league history to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2005-06 as the league's Western Conference Champion, falling in seven games to the Carolina Hurricanes in the Finals.

Currently led by president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe and general manager Steve Tambellini, the Oilers have sent six players to the Hockey Hall of Fame - a list of "who's who" in hockey history - including Wayne Gretzky (NHL's all-time leading scorer), Jari Kurri, Mark Messier, Grant Fuhr, Paul Coffey and Glenn Anderson. Glen Sather (Head Coach/President and General Manager) and Rod Phillips (Radio Broadcaster) have also earned spots in the Hall of Fame.


A look at the Oilers five Stanley Cup championships:

•1983-84: defeated New York Islanders, 4 games to 1
•1984-85: defeated Philadelphia Flyers, 4 games to 1
•1986-87: defeated Philadelphia Flyers, 4 games to 3
•1987-88: defeated Boston Bruins, 4 games to 0
•1989-90: defeated Boston Bruins, 4 games to 1

WHAT THEY HAVE SAID:

"We are pleased to once again extend our agreement for another year with Stockton. The Thunder organization have provided our players with a positive environment that enables them to develop as professionals. We look forward to another successful season with Stockton in 2009-10."
- Former Edmonton Oilers VP of Hockey Operations Kevin Prendergast

"The Stockton Thunder are very excited about entering into our fourth year of an affiliation with the Edmonton Oilers. Developing young players and putting a winning team on the ice are the two most important factors when considering who our NHL partner will be. The Oilers and Thunder clearly are on the same page in this regard and we look forward to achieving both of these objectives with Edmonton during the 2009-10 season."
- Thunder president Dan Chapman

"We're excited to once again partner with a first class organization in the Edmonton Oilers and the opportunity to work with their exceptional front office is an advantage to the Thunder. They continue to show a strong commitment to strengthening prospect development and our on-ice product by being visibly active when it comes to scouting and on-hands teaching with prospects in our farm system. We look forward to continued success in developing future Oilers talent and helping promote a winning culture they can take on their road to the National Hockey League."
- Thunder head coach Matt Thomas

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Contact info:

Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club
11230 - 110 Street
Edmonton, AB. T5G 3H7
Phone: 780-414-4000
http://www.edmontonoilers.com/

Oklahoma City Barons Hockey Club
P.O. Box 1478
Oklahoma City, OK 73101
Phone: (405) 232-4625
Fax: (405) 232-4622
http://www.okcbarons.com/

Stockton Thunder Hockey Club
248 West Fremont Street
Stockton, CA 95203
Thunder Info Line (209)373-1500
Fax (209)373-1525
http://www.stocktonthunder.com/

*Reprinted with permission from Stockton Thunder Professional Hockey Club, ECHL. The Stockton Thunder are a proud 'AA' affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers (NHL) and the Oklahoma City Barons (AHL) *

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