As the Oklahoma City Barons final season comes to an end, with the Oilers moving their AHL franchise to Bakersfield this upcoming season, one of their longest-tenured players closes out his best season as a pro.
Curtis Hamilton, selected 48th overall by the Oilers in 2010, has played in OKC since the 2011-12 season. Those formative years spent as a young prospect down on the farm are filled with memories.
“I came here when I was 20 years old I think at the end of my last year in junior and I kind of got to know the city,” said Hamilton. “It’s crazy thinking back that it has almost been five years since then. I spent all that time here and it’s been an awesome city. I’ve made a lot of memories here and it’s something I’ll never forget.”
The one thing that sticks out the most to Hamilton during his four seasons with the Barons is the quality of teams he played on.
“We had a lot of playoff games here. We had a couple overtime games I remember watching, playing in or winning. We always had a lot of good teams here and great teammates here so I have a lot of fond memories of those games,” Hamilton said.
This year’s playoff run ended in the Western Conference Semifinal with a 1-0 game-seven loss to the Utica Comets. But what happened before that finale was special to Hamilton.
In game one against the Comets, Hamilton scored the game-winning goal in the fourth overtime period. Playing in a game like that is perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Scoring the winner? That’s even more memorable.
It capped off Hamilton’s best season as a professional, in which he recorded career highs in goals (12), assists (20) and points (32). He also earned his first NHL call-up, playing for the Oilers on April 9, against San Jose.
“This year as a whole (was memorable),” said Hamilton. “I got to go over to Switzerland and play in the Spengler Cup, which was awesome. Playing my first NHL game was a dream come true. Getting that fourth overtime goal was just the icing on the cake. I had a great year and I’m very proud of it.”
Hamilton now turns his focus to building off this season with a good summer of training.
“There are a whole bunch of things (I want to work on),” he said. “Obviously, conditioning and weight training, skating and what not. You go through kind of everything. You go through all the hoops to get ready for the next season. But right now I will probably take a week or two just to relax, let everything heal up and get ready for the summer.”