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Oilers, Thunder Announce Affiliation Renewal

by Mike Benton / Edmonton Oilers
Stockton Thunder goaltender Parker Van Buskirk turns away a shot (photo: Ryan Gallegos/IIA Photography)
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 2010-11 season effective immediately, Thunder president Dan Chapman announced today in conjunction with the Oilers at a news conference at Stockton Arena.

"The Edmonton Oilers have been a terrific partner and we look forward to working with them for a fifth consecutive season in 2010-11," said Chapman.  "They are very focused on the development of the players, while at the same time working extremely well with our organization to make our team very competitive on the ice."

Oilers Assistant General Manager Rick Olczyk says, "We have had a tremendous affiliation with Stockton over the past four years and we are very excited about renewing for the upcoming season.  The Thunder organization is first class and we are proud to be a partner with them again."

For the fifth consecutive season, Stockton will serve as the AA minor-league affiliate for Oilers prospects. Since the Thunder and Oilers began their partnership in 2006-07, the Thunder has advanced to the Kelly Cup Playoffs four consecutive years and seven former Thunder players - right wing Troy Bodie, goaltender Devan Dubnyk, right wing Colin McDonald, center Ryan O'Marra, center Tim Sestito, left wing Liam Reddox and defenseman Bryan Young - have gone on to play in the NHL.

"My first order of business, this offseason, was renewing what has been an excellent relationship with the Edmonton Oilers," said Thunder head coach Matt Thomas. "They have made a huge impact in allowing the Thunder to become a premier ECHL program, helping place young talent on the fast track to successful careers in the National Hockey League. I'm looking forward to working with Edmonton's prospects again this season."

Within the Thunder's 23-man roster that advanced to the Conference Finals for the first time in club history last season, eight players were under an NHL or AHL contract through Edmonton:

  • James Bates (RW)
  • Jordan Bendfeld (D)
  • Kelly Czuy (RW)
  • Riley Emmerson (RW)
  • Matt Marquardt (LW)
  • Andrew Perugini (G)
  • Bryan Pitton (G)
  • Bryan Young (D)
Additionally, goaltender Bryan Pitton became the first player in Thunder history to earn a recall directly to the NHL last season. He suited up for the Oilers on Jan. 2 at San Jose and backed up goaltender Jeff-Drouin Deslauriers, but did not play. Pitton recorded .921 save percentage, won eight of his last 12 ECHL games to finish 9-9-3 in the regular season with a 2.85 GAA and one shutout. Pitton broke a Thunder playoff record with 49 saves, earning his first career postseason shutout on May 5 vs. Idaho (1-0 win in triple overtime).

Bodie debuted with the Anaheim Ducks on Jan. 16, 2009 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The 6-foot-4, 219-pound forward has skated in 48 games for Anaheim, scoring seven points (5g-2a) and posting 80 penalty minutes in two seasons (2008-10). He was originally selected by the Oilers in the ninth round (278th overall) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft and skated in 46 games for the Thunder in 2006-07, ranking second on the club with 21 goals while amassing 38 points (21g-17a) and 80 penalty minutes. Bodie represented the Thunder in the 2007 ECHL All-Star Game at Boise, Idaho.

Dubnyk made his NHL debut with Edmonton on "Hockey Night In Canada" at GM Place, on Nov. 28 against the Vancouver Canucks. A first round draft pick (14th overall) of the Oilers in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Dubnyk set Thunder single-season records for wins (24), minutes played (2,529), lowest goals-against-average (2.56) and save percentage (.921) in 2006-07, helping guide the Thunder to its first Kelly Cup Playoff berth in team history.

He earned a spot on the National Conference team at the 2007 ECHL All-Star Game. The 6-foot-5, 194-pound goaltender was 4-10-2 with a 3.57 GAA and .889 save percentage in 19 games with the Oilers last season.

Sestito made his NHL debut with the Oilers on Nov. 26, 2008 against the Los Angeles Kings and has tallied one assist in ten NHL games with Edmonton and the New Jersey Devils. The 6-foot, 195-pound forward played in 66 games for the Thunder in 2006-07, ranking second on the club with 132 penalty minutes while scoring 26 points (13g-13a). Sestito helped guide the Thunder to the first Kelly Cup Playoff berth in team history and scored three points (2g-1a) in six playoff games, ranking tied for second on the team in playoff scoring.

McDonald suited up in three games for the Thunder in 2008-09, posting two assists and advanced to the NHL in 2009-10, making his debut on Nov. 27 against the San Jose Sharks. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound forward has scored one goal in two NHL games with Edmonton and was selected by the Oilers in the second round (51st overall) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

O'Marra, who was selected in the first round (15th overall) by the New York Islanders in the 2005 draft and acquired by the  Oilers in 2006-07 in a trade that sent Ryan Smyth to the Islanders, made his NHL debut on Nov. 10, 2009 at Ottawa. He has collected one assist in three games with Edmonton and was originally named to the National Conference squad at the 2008 Chase Chevrolet ECHL All-Star Game shortly before earning a recall to Springfield of the American Hockey League. O'Marra scored 20 points (11g-9a) in 24 games with the Thunder in 2007-08 and added nine points (2g-7a) in six Kelly Cup Playoff games.

Reddox finished the 06-07 year with a seven-game scoring streak for the Thunder, posting 11 points (4g-7a) in that stretch and finishing the year with 26 points (8g-18a) in 70 ECHL games. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound winger became the second player in Thunder history to play in the NHL, making his debut with the Oilers on December 7, 2007 against the St. Louis Blues. Reddox has suited up in 56 games for Edmonton throughout three seasons (2007-10), scoring 14 points (5g-9a) and posting 14 penalty minutes.

Young became the first player with Thunder experience to make his NHL debut, skating for Edmonton on Mar. 9, 2007 at Anaheim. Through two seasons (2006-08), Young suited up in 17 games for the Oilers and has two seasons of ECHL experience in Stockton (2006-07, 2009-10), skating in 62 combined games while scoring 15 points (4g-11a). Last season, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound blueliner helped guide the Thunder to their first appearance in the Conference Finals, scoring three points (2g-1a) in 15 Kelly Cup Playoff games. He was originally selected by Edmonton in the fifth round (146th overall) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

The Oilers, a member of the NHL's Western Conference and Northwest Division, have been a member of 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 NHL's first-ever eighth playoff seed in league history to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2005-06 as the league's Western Conference Champion, falling in seven games to the Carolina Hurricanes in the Finals.

Currently led by president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe and general manager Steve Tambellini, the Oilers have sent six players from their NHL tenure to the Hockey Hall of Fame - a list of "who's who" in hockey history - including Wayne Gretzky (NHL's all-time leading scorer), Jari Kurri, Mark Messier, Grant Fuhr, Paul Coffey and Glenn Anderson. Glen Sather (President and General Manager) and Rod Phillips (Radio Broadcaster) have also earned spots in the Hall of Fame.

The agreement renewal is a supplement to the Thunder's additional announced affiliation with the San Jose Sharks of the NHL and Worcester Sharks of the AHL.

In conjunction with the agreement with Edmonton, the Oklahoma City Barons will serve as an AHL affiliate of the Thunder.
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