Submitted by Big Valley Oil Kings
The Big Valley Oil Kings senior AA hockey team has started to turn some heads in the little village 32 kilometres south of Stettler. Each weekend, the Big Valley Agriplex is home to some of the best senior hockey the community has seen in years, and now the team is bringing a game to the Stettler Recreation Centre.
This Saturday night, the Oil Kings will host their biggest rival in the Battle River Hockey League, former champion Daysland Northstars. Daysland, which has been a dominant force in the BRHL, has eliminated the Oil Kings from playoff action in each of the past two seasons.
“We feel that the calibre of team we’ve put together should be exposed to the area, and this season — despite a winning record — our attendance has been down,” said Oil Kings president Ryan Pietrucki.
“We are hoping that a showcase game in Stettler with two of the league’s top teams will be great exposure for the organization and our sponsors.”
The Oil Kings are 9-3 after sweeping the Tofield Satellites at home last weekend — 8-6 on Sunday and 4-1 on Saturday — to post six straight wins.
The Oil Kings are now tied in points with the 9-2 Satellites atop the BRHL standings. Big Valley has scored the most goals — 75 — in the league this season.
The team’s offence has been led by the like of former Mississippi Surge star Matt Kinnunen, with 22 points after 10 games, Ryan Kallis, with 19 points, and former Olds Grizzly and Castor native Sean Neumeier, who had 17 points after eight games.
Other locals leading the Oil Kings’ way this season include captain Brett Muhlbach, Devan Shanks, Jeff Smitten, Brett Nixon, Tyson Glazier, Danny Houston, Denver Wik, Rob Turville and goalie Chance Clark.
Among those rounding out the Big Valley squad are former WHL and OHL players Matt Schmermund, Dustin Moore and Cory Konecny, and AJHL and SJHL products Alex Hustad, Reed Linaker, David Skagen, Ryan MacPhee, Andrew Gilbert, Devin Dambrauskas and Shawn Shackleton.
This season’s group has been entertaining to watch and undefeated at home (7-0-0).
Saturday’s game will start at 8:30 p.m., and will include a 50/50, Shoot To Win, sports memorabilia, silent auctions and more.
The game doubles as a charity fundraiser, with a Christmas food and toy drive for the Stettler Christmas Hamper.
Fans are asked to bring a donation of a child’s toy or none-perishable food item to enter a chance to win an Edmonton Oilers or Calgary Flames jersey.
WEEKEND RECAP: In Sunday’s 8-6 win over Tofield, Big Valley received three goals and seven points from Kinnunen, two goals and two assists from Jeff Clazie, and a goal and six points from Muhlbach. The Oil Kings’ other scorers were Wik and Skagen, while Colin Stebner blocked 36 shots.
Skagen fired a pair of goals Saturday in Big Valley’s 4-1 victory over Tofield. Kinnunen, with two points, and Neumeier also scored for the Oil Kings, who got a 32-save performance from Clark.
UP NEXT: After this Saturday’s game at Stettler, the Oil Kings are off for the Christmas holidays. Their next game is Jan. 10 at home, also against Daysland.