Oilers Add Hometown Defenseman and Rookie Goaltender
TULSA, OK – The Tulsa Oilers announced today the signings of defenseman Chris Waterstradt and goaltender Dan Bakala for the 2012-13 season.
Waterstradt, a native Tulsan who grew up cheering for the Oilers, will get his first taste of pro hockey after finishing successful collegiate career at the University of Connecticut. The 6’2” 185-pound blue liner was six years old when he started attending Oilers games at the Convention Center. The kid who idolized names like Doug Lawrence, Luc Beausoleil, Sly Naud, and Tom Karalis, now has a chance to follow in their footsteps.
“It’s neat to be part of the team I grew up watching and to have the opportunity to play in my hometown, I couldn’t ask for anything more,” said Waterstradt. “The Oilers were like an NHL team to me when I was a kid, and I got to know some of them as I got older. For those great players to know my name and give me advice was something I never would have had in a bigger city.”
“It’s awesome to bring in a guy like Chris because it just goes to show you that pro hockey players can come from anywhere, even right here in our own backyard,” said Oilers Head Coach Bruce Ramsay. “There is some good talent right here in Tulsa and I hope some of these young kids in youth hockey will look at Chris as an inspiration.”
After graduating from Thomas Edison High School in 2005, the 25-year old Waterstradt played one season of junior hockey with the Springfield Junior Blues (NAHL) before heading northeast to play for the Huskies. At UConn, Waterstradt was part of a defensive unit that included current Oilers Sean Erickson and Nick Schneider.
“Both Sean and Nick really helped me adjust to the college game, and I know they’ll help me out as I adjust to this level,” Waterstradt said. “I never would have seen us all ending up on the same team after college. We’re really good friends and this is a unique situation.”
Bakala joins the Oilers after four years at Bemidji State University in Minnesota where he played alongside Oilers forwards Ryan Cramer and Drew Fisher. In the 2009-10 season with the Beavers, Bakala posted 19 wins and a stellar 2.33 goals against average in 31 appearances.
“I thought it’d be nice to start my career playing with some guys I know,” said Bakala, a Calgary, Alberta native. “I’m familiar with the CHL and I know the guys who play in that league have good track records, so it’s going to be a challenge, but I’m really looking forward to getting into camp and getting started.”
“Dan is an outstanding young goaltender and I think he can be a tremendous asset to our team,” Ramsay said. “It’s such an important position but with his background and experience, I think he can have a big impact as a rookie.”
Bakala, 24, played his junior hockey for the Calgary Royals. The 5’11” 185-pound netminder says he was convinced Tulsa was the right fit after hearing what Ramsay expects from his players.
“He did a good job of selling the program,” Bakala said. “He wants to see guys move up and he finds it in his best interest for players to move up and improve. He wants to develop my game and help me become more successful and that’s exactly the kind of coach I want to play for.”
Bakala, Waterstradt, and the rest of the Oilers begin training camp at the Oilers Ice Center on Monday, October 8th. The Oilers open the 2012-13 campaign at Wichita on October 20th before playing their home opener on October 26th against Quad City.
Season and individual game tickets are now on sale. For more information, call 918-632-PUCK or log on to www.tulsaoilers.com.