Oil Kings’ newcomers bring grit, experience

The Big Valley Oil Kings finished their weekend training camp on Sunday at the Big Valley Agriplex

CURTIS BILLSTEN

CURTIS BILLSTEN

BRENT FORSTER, Big Valley Oil Kings

The Big Valley Oil Kings finished their weekend training camp on Sunday at the Big Valley Agriplex, with several new players among those looking to contribute to the senior AA team.

Calgary-born Curtis Billsten, who had 64 points in 70 games in the 2006-07 season with the WHL’s Kootenay Ice, is among the Big Valley newcomers who has impressed.

Billsten, 26, comes to the Oil Kings with a combination of size — at six-foot-three and 220 pounds — and top-end skill. Besides playing major junior in the WHL, university in the CIS and pro in the ECHL and CHL, he most recently skated with the SAIT Trojans of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference.

Stettler product Brett Ouellette aims to make a smooth transition from the junior B Lightning to the Oil Kings of the Battle River Hockey League.

In his overage season, Ouellette led the Lightning squad with 34 points in 40 games. He also showed his tenacious side by racking up 97 penalty minutes.

Forward Derek Muhlbach, fresh out of high school, has ambitions of joining his older brother Brett with the Oil Kings.

Last season, the younger Muhlbach posted 25 points in 38 games as a rookie with the Lightning. Derek finished the season with 14 goals, which was tied for second on the Heritage junior B league team.

Also from the junior B ranks, last year’s Three Hills Thrashers’ captain, Matt Wildeman, hopes to trade in his hometown jersey for the Oil Kings’ colours this season. Wildeman was voted the Thrashers’ most improved player in the 2011-12 season, and finished with 27 points in 36 games with the junior B club.

Jeremy Chadsey is another player who showed well at the Oil Kings’ training camp. Chadsey has the combination of size, grit and skill. The six-foot-one, 230-pound native of Chilliwack, B.C., includes an important physical element to his game.

As a member of the Quesnel Millionaires of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League a decade ago, Chadsey racked up 183 penalty minutes, while also contributing 41 points in 57 games.

The powerful winger, now 29, also suited up in the ECHL, CHL and UHL. Chadsey’s style of play could make him a popular player in Big Valley.

The Oil Kings continue to prepare for their season-opener on Sunday, Oct. 28, in Tofield.

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