Rookie brings Oilers a winning pedigree

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Hockey: Telus Cup title with Red Deer a boon to Stefan Danielson
By: Remy Greer, Okotoks Western Wheel


No one has to teach an Okotoks Oilers rookie defenceman about what it takes to win.

Stefan Danielson, as a 2012 Telus Cup Midget national champion, pretty much has that lesson down pat already.

Danielson and the Red Deer Midget AAA Optimist Rebels took home the Telus Cup trophy in Leduc in April after erasing a 5-1 deficit in the third period to capture the title 6-5 in double overtime over the Phénix du Collège Esther-Blondin.

“Just never give up,” Danielson said. “It’s an overused tired thing, but it’s true. Anything can happen and I believe that now from personal experience. Dreams do come true and if you keep striving and pushing they’re going to happen eventually if you believe it.

“It was magical, that comeback was ridiculous and it was the best moment of my life,” Danielson added.

“That’s a once in a lifetime thing for a ton of people, except Scott Bolland who wins it twice.”

Fellow Oiler Scott Bolland won back-to-back national titles in 2009 and 2010 with Wilcox, Sask.’s famed Notre Dame Hounds.

It’s been a different story for the Wild Rose province outfits at the national tournament.

Red Deer’s Telus Cup triumph was Alberta’s first since the Calgary Northstars won it all in 2003 and is the only national title Rebels’ franchise history.

“When we got back we had a whole bunch of people waiting for us and had a big ceremony for us,” Danielson said. “It was a huge deal for the people in Red Deer and Alberta.”

Reaching the pinnacle of Midget AAA hockey in Canada served as a nice launching pad for Danielson’s Junior A career to kick off this fall.

“That level at the Telus Cup is really high and it helps with the jump, it was that much closer to the (Jr. A) level,” Danielson said.

“I thought it helped out a ton.”

The 17-year-old blueliner affiliated with the Oilers last season for one game, giving the Red Deer native a taste of what’s to come in Big Rock Country.

“It helped out a lot knowing what it takes and the level the play at up here,” Danielson said. “I knew full well what I needed to bring this year.”

And the rookie has brought a calming influence to a rookie-laden Oilers blueline and showcased flashes of offensive potential with a goal and an assist through 17 games.

He tallied his first goal in Junior in dramatic fashion, notching a game winner in sudden death three-on-three overtime over Lloydminster at the AJHL showcase.

“It was so surreal I scored and I was in shock for about 10 minutes there,” he said.

The Holy Trinity Academy student credited Connor Hartley, a fellow Red Deer resident and second-year Oiler, for showing him the ropes and helping him to feel comfortable in the green-and-gold uniform.

“Hartley’s been a huge factor in me coming up being that in Red Deer we played together two years ago,” Danielson said. “He’s been a real help with anything I needed.”

Oilers head coach James Poole said Danielson’s background with the Rebels made him an enticing prospect the team keyed on early in the recruiting process.

“Probably more important than the fact he’s a champion is that he comes from a very good program,” Poole said. “Red Deer, they’ve won Alberta three years in a row, and Stefan was a part of two of those teams.

“They’re a very well coached team and you want players that have been well coached it makes your job that much easier and makes the transition to Junior that much quicker.”

The Oilers coach couldn’t be more pleased with the play of his three rookies on the blueline, Danielson, Kyle Krabben and Drew Weich, all of whom have been given more opportunity with veteran defenceman Max Mowat sidelined with an injury.

“It’s getting them that added experience that they need,” Poole said. “We had Danielson and Krabben out at the end of the game against Canmore (on Friday) and that’s the kind of comfort level we have with these defencemen.

“They have made the jump and they’re contributing to our success.”

Oilers split

The Okotoks Oilers extended their winning streak to four games with a 5-2 comeback victory over the Canmore Eagles, Friday at the Pason Centennial Arena.

Canmore skated to a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes, but Okotoks answered with three in the middle stanza through Greg Lamoureux, Chris Collins and Tanner Olstad. Rookie sniper John Edwardh added a pair of third-period markers to raise his season total to eight goals. Keith Hamilton stopped 26 of 28 shots to pick up his second win with the Oilers.

Okotoks played the Calgary Canucks for the first time this season Monday and dropped the meeting 5-4 at Max Bell Arena. Bolland scored two for the Oilers, rookie Colton Sheen notched his first marker in the AJHL and co-captain Robbie Fisher also bulged the twine. Hamilton picked up his first loss with the Oilers with a 26-save performance in Calgary.

The Oilers again hosted the Eagles on Nov. 6, but results were too late for press time. Okotoks is back at the Pason Centennial Arena this weekend when they welcome the Camrose Kodiaks on Friday and the Calgary Mustangs on Saturday. Both games are 7 p.m. starts.