Oilers part of Senior hockey lore
Hockey: Old barn was rocking in the 70s
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 18, 2013 06:00 am
A former member of the Okotoks Senior Men’s Oilers is hoping nothing but the best for the expansion team in the Ranchland Hockey League.
If the new Okotoks Drillers can have the same success as the Oilers, the players will be in for a wild ride that will lead to long-lasting friendships, said former Oiler Tom Snodgrass.
When Snodgrass played for the Oilers, the roster sounded like a who’s who of respected sportsmen in the Foothills community
“It’s been years since I have played — I played with the Oilers since I was 16 until I was 28 or something,” said the 58-year-old Snodgrass. “I started with Brian Miller and Bruce Wedderburn — I played with two Millers, four Wedderburns, two Snodgrasses and two Lomendas and a few others in my time.”
The Oilers won provincial championships in 1974-75 and 1975-76 under coach Jim Anderson, while playing in a Southern Alberta League, with the Calgary Trojans, Stettler and Drumheller.
They were the team in Okotoks in those days — back when the community by the Sheep River had a smaller population than High River.
“They packed the rink all the time, that’s back when the rink was down by the library,” Snodgrass said. “That was big hockey then. That was all there was to do was come and watch the Oilers.
“We were pretty popular — we were like the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1970s — nobody wanted to play us.”
Don Gilbert coached the Oilers after Anderson stepped down and he said those Okotoks teams were tight-knit units.
“I liked coaching because we were all friends — I would play hockey with them in the winter and ball in the summer,” Gilbert said. “It was really good hockey.”
The Oilers would eventually move to the Ranchland Hockey League and would win a championship in 1989-90 before folding a few years later.
When the Oilers folded it left a hole in the community where Okotoks players could play. That hole was somewhat filled by the Nanton Palominos.
Former Foothills area residents who played for the Palominos over the years include Tom’s son Trevor Snodgrass, Jaret Miller, Jason Glass, Brian Mayan, Billy Wedderburn, Merritt Alwood and Dave Gilbert, to name a few.
Snodgrass said he’s glad to hear Senior hockey is being revised in Okotoks.
“I think it is a great idea,” Snodgrass said. “It’s been a while since we had one.”