The annual Golden Bears hockey game against the Edmonton Oilers rookie squad is heading back to Clare Drake Arena for 2016, after playing the contest in Rexall Place last season.
The Evergreen and Gold will host the Blue and Orange on September 21 at 7:00 p.m. in the historic rink on the University of Alberta’s Main Campus. Tickets are on sale now and available through the Golden Bears and Pandas Customer Service Centre (780-492-2231 & 780-492-2327), and in person at 1-213 Van Vliet Complex, as well as through EdmontonOilers.com, at all Ticketmaster locations and online
for $30 (plus fees). Tickets will also available at the venue ticket booth on game day pending availability.
Last year’s tilt, which the Oilers’ rookies won 6-3 on the strength of a combined seven points from Leon Draisaitl (1G, 4A) and Connor McDavid (3A), was played at Rexall Place for the first time in the game’s 25 year history, and before over 16,000 fans. The 2016 edition will shift back to Clare Drake Arena where the Golden Bears have won 13 times.
"On behalf of University of Alberta Athletics and the Golden Bears Hockey program, I would first like to sincerely thank the Edmonton Oilers for their long term commitment to Golden Bears Hockey. This game is the one of the highlights of the year for our players, as well as a great tool for assessing our new recruits each year. It also provides an amazing pro style experiences for our players, while they are playing for the University of Alberta and preparing for a career after school.”
“We have a great long term relationship with the Edmonton Oilers,” added Marple, “which includes many Golden Bears alumni who have gone on to help the Oilers at the NHL level, most recently, Ian Herbers who graduated from our program first as a player and then as a coach to the Oilers and NHL,” added Marple. “It is our hope that we can continue to grow our already excellent relationship over the next few years, for the mutual benefit of both organizations."
The history of the Golden Bears vs. the Edmonton Oilers’ rookies game goes back to 1988, and was a yearly tradition for over 20 years. The game went on hiatus following the 2009 tilt, but was restarted in 2013. The Oilers hold a 2-1 record over the Bears since that time, while the U of A leads the all-time series 13-12-0.
Alberta comes into the game having graduated seven starting and key players from a roster that helped the program win a pair of consecutive national championship titles over the course of the past three seasons. Among the departed are team captain Kruise Reddick and Canada West all-star forwards Jordan Hickmott, Brett Ferguson and Levko Koper, along with former conference defencemen of the year award winners Jordan Rowley and Thomas Carr. All six of those players have all since signed professional hockey contracts as well.
Head Coach Serge Lajoie, who is entering his second season behind the bench, does return over a dozen players however, including last season’s starting goalie Luke Siemens and forwards Stephane Legault, who scored 30 points in 27 games last seasom, Jamie Crooks (24 points in 30 games), assistant captain Riley Kieser, as well as defenceman Dylan Bredo, who notched 15 points in 28 games as a rookie last season, and third-year Mitch Topping.
"We are very excited to play the Oiler Rookies again this year,” said Lajoie. “This game always provides our players an opportunity to showcase their skills at a very high pace in a high energy atmosphere against a great opponent. As coaches, we will use this game as part of our assessment of our players and of our team. With so many new faces in our line-up for the upcoming season, I am looking forward to see which players will rise to the challenge and show a high level of compete."