The Fort McMurray Oil Barons begin their regular season in Grand Prairie over the weekend.
Twenty-four players are currently on the roster, due to injuries with the team eyeing 22 skaters as their ideal number. The team will be see a healthy mix of veterans, which includes Ryan Cox, Shane Fraser, Eric Szudor, and Will Conley, while also seeing 10 rookies play in the first game.
“We definitely like our starting roster, will there be tweaks throughout the year – maybe – but we’re excited as a coaching staff to get things going,” added Tom Keca, General Manager and Head Coach.
He adds the team is confident having all these rookies won’t leave them starting the year slowly but does believe the first couple of games could be “sloppy” as all the players get back into game action.
“We have a good mixture, we’re very excited with the veteran core that’s back which gives us that foundation to build on and we’re excited with the youthful enthusiasm that the younger players bring.”
Meanwhile, third-year player Shane Fraser is being named Captain. Last year, he scored 16 goals – adding 23 assists in 58 games. Keca says it’s not his offensive ability which led him to being named the team’s leader.
“He’s a guy who that takes every important faceoff, he kills penalties, he’s just a Jack of all trades. He’s definitely somebody that not only leads off the ice but on the ice.”
Taner Miller, Liam Izyk, Curtis Roach and Will Conley will all serve as assistant captains.
As for their opponent, Keca sees Grand Prairie having a bounce back season after only being able to muster 15 wins throughout the 2016/17 season.
“We’re just worried about the 20 guys who suit up in our dressing room, we want to play as hard as we can and hopefully we can get some points.”
The regular season will start with a doubleheader, versus the Storm, starting on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. The team’s first home game will be on Friday, September 22, against the Lloydminster Bobcats.