Oilers, Thunder Renew Affiliation

Wednesday, 07.11.12 / 11:13 AM
By Stockton Thunder Staff

Clubs continue affiliation into seventh season as partners for NHL development

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STOCKTON, Calif. – The Stockton Thunder of the ECHL and Edmonton Oilers of the National Hockey League have reached a one year affiliation agreement for the 2012-13 season, Thunder president Dan Chapman announced today in conjunction with the Oilers.

“Continuing our affiliation with the Edmonton Oilers has been a high priority for our organization this off-season and we’re very much looking forward to working with them during the 2012-13 season,” said Chapman. “This will mark the seventh consecutive year we’ve partnered with the Oilers and our objectives to develop players and provide a winning and competitive team on the ice remain consistent with one another.”

Last season, Milan Kytnar became the 8th player in Thunder history to move up and make his NHL debut. (photo by Andy Devlin/EOHC)

“We are very pleased to continue our partnership with the Stockton Thunder,” said Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini. “Their commitment to excellence on and off the ice is a key component to developing our young players. We look forward to another year of a successful partnership.”

Stockton will serve as the minor league affiliate for Oilers prospects at the premier ‘AA’ hockey league level. Since the two teams began their partnership in 2006-07, the Thunder has advanced to the Kelly Cup Playoffs six consecutive seasons and eight former Thunder players have also advanced to make their debut in the NHL.

“We are really excited to extend our agreement with the Oilers,” said Thunder head coach Matt Thomas. “They are quickly becoming one of the most exciting franchises in the NHL. Their commitment to development is evident through the many Thunder players that have gone on to play with the Oilers and Oklahoma City Barons.”

Thomas continued, “The NHL is so competitive and the need to get maximum playing time and development for their prospects has provided us with the opportunity to create a more visibly aligned path to the NHL from Stockton. We look forward to continued success in the 2012-13 season and beyond.”

Milan Kytnar, among several Thunder players who skated under a contract with the Oilers organization or were recalled last season, became the eighth Thunder player to reach the NHL level last season. He was recalled directly by the Oilers on Jan. 11 and made his NHL debut that evening vs. New Jersey at Rexall Place.

ABOUT THE EDMONTON OILERS

The Edmonton Oilers, one of the most storied teams in hockey history, are a member of the Western Conference and Northwest Division, competing in 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 first ever eighth playoff seed in NHL history (current format) to advance to the Stanley Cup Final in 2005-06 as the league’s Western Conference Champion, falling in seven games to the Carolina Hurricanes in the Final.

Currently led by President, Hockey Operations/Alternate Governor Kevin Lowe and Tambellini, the Oilers have helped send seven players to the Hockey Hall of Fame – a list of “who’s who” in hockey history – including Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, Grant Fuhr, Paul Coffey, Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson and Adam Oates. Glen Sather (former Head Coach and General Manager) and Rod Phillips (Radio Broadcaster) have also earned spots in the Hall of Fame.

Under the agreement, the Thunder will also continue to serve as the ECHL affiliate of the Oklahoma City Barons, who operate as the American Hockey League affiliate of the Oilers.

The agreement marks the first season since 2009-10 that the Thunder will carry an exclusive affiliation with an NHL team. The Thunder participated in a dual affiliation with the Oilers and San Jose Sharks from 2010-12.

“We had a great relationship with the San Jose Sharks over the last two seasons,” said Thomas. “Unfortunately, the need to develop young players, specifically goaltenders, has made everyone shift their focus to exclusive agreements. They need to play more than a possible 36 games and this exclusivity will benefit both NHL organizations. We would like to thank the San Jose Sharks for their commitment to the Thunder and wish them luck moving forward.”

Opening Night is Friday, Oct. 12 when the Thunder launches the 2012-13 season and the ECHL’s 25th Anniversary campaign at home against the Ontario Reign, starting at 7:30 p.m. at Stockton Arena.

A two time recipient of the ECHL “Award of Excellence,” the Thunder led the ECHL in attendance for four consecutive seasons and drew over 200,000 fans for the seventh consecutive season in 2011-12. Season Tickets for 2012-13 are on sale now. For more information about tickets, merchandise, or other inquiries contact the Stockton Thunder offices at (209) 373-1500 or visit http://www.stocktonthunder.com/.

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