Future is now for Oilers
Hockey: Ambrose Firkus acquired from B.C. for Taylor Allan
By: Remy Greer
| Posted: Wednesday, Dec 18, 2013 06:00 am
The Okotoks Junior A Oilers served notice they’re going for it this year.
Okotoks traded the future in 1995-born forward Taylor Allan to the Cowichan Valley Capitals for 1994-born winger Ambrose Firkus, a skilled forward the Oilers will likely only have for one season.
“We’re trying to be aggressive,” said Oilers head coach/GM James Poole. “Spruce (Grove) is looking really good right now, but, apart from that, the South we think is pretty even and we’re right up there. When we’re playing our A-game we think we’re close.
“If Ambrose can come in and contribute we think it makes us that much better of a team.”
Firkus potted six goals and 21 points in 23 games with the British Columbia Hockey League’s West Kelowna Warriors before suddenly being moved to Vancouver Island with the Capitals at the beginning of December. He did not play any games for Cowichan Valley before being moved to Okotoks on Dec. 10.
“It was pretty shocking actually. (The Warriors) told me they needed a d-man out there and I was the guy that they needed to get rid of,” Firkus said. “When I was traded to Cowichan, I wanted to come back home (to Alberta) and make a run for it back here.
“It ended up that I came back here to Okotoks and that was one of the places I was really looking forward to coming to.”
The exchange adds a much-needed offensive element to the Oil, a team void of a top-40 scorer and tied for 13th in the league in goals for.
“It was tough to give up Taylor. He’s a good kid with a good future, but we looked at it like we think our team is close and if we can improve our offence it would make us that much tougher of a team,” Poole said. “Ambrose is a guy that’s a high skill player that’s hopefully going to help our powerplay and round out our top six with a little more skill to combine with the harder-working guys.”
Allan, a promising rookie forward, registered five goals and 15 points in 31 games for the Oilers while providing a physical presence on the wing.
“Trying to win 2-1 it’s taxing after a while. You run into a hot goalie come playoff time and you could be in a lot of trouble in that first round,” Poole said. “We’ve looked at trying to find more ways to create more offence within our lineup and it’s starting to get better, but we wanted to find some personnel we thought could help us offensively.”
The offensive pedigree is there for the 18-year-old.
Firkus finished fourth in Midget AAA scoring in the province as a Lloydminster AAA Bobcat with 47 points in 27 games in 2011-12 while forming a dynamic duo with teammate Jetlan Houcher, the current Fort McMurray Oil Barons captain.
The product of small town Irma, Alberta has two years left of eligibility in Junior, but committed to attend the University of Alaska-Fairbanks for the 2014-15 season thanks in part to his connection with Nanooks head coach Dallas Ferguson, from nearby Wainwright.
“He’s from around my hometown so I know Dallas from that and I always talked to him about what I could do better,” Firkus said. “It ended up that he offered me a scholarship and I ended up taking it.”
Firkus made his commitment at training camp with the Warriors, easing some of stress characteristic of Junior hockey players looking to lock up a post-secondary home.
“This summer was really hectic with stuff like that. I was kind of worrying about making a decision,” Firkus said. “We had a good talk with Dallas and we figured it out.
“It really takes a load off you to be able to go out there and play hockey and not worry about who’s up in the stands. Even though people will tell you it’s not on their minds, it always is.”