Catch You On The Rebound
Fort McMurray Oil Barons’ alumni making it to the National Hockey League include Colton Parayko, Rich Parent, Chris Phillips, Scottie Upshall and Harry York to name a few. The list is even longer for those who tried to keep the dream alive while riding the buses and staying in motels; carving out a career in one of the North America’s many semi-pro hockey circuits.
Here are our Top 5 selections, based on longevity and production, for former Oil Barons who made a name for themselves in cities like Fort Wayne, San Angelo, San Antonio.
1. Brian Shantz
Professional career 1992-2002
The Shantz legend started in the Fort McMurray minor hockey system, scoring 40 goals and 65 assists in 24 games during Midget hockey. A few years later he would top the 100 point mark with 34 goals and 80 assists in 1987-88 as a member of the Oil Barons.
Signing a pro contract in 1992, he would spend the next 10 years wearing the jerseys of 14 different franchises.
But it is with the Central Hockey League’s San Antonio Iguanas that he made a name for himself, claiming back-to-back Ken McKenzie trophies for the top scorer in CHL. He would earn league MVP status in 1995-1996.
The Iguanas would lose in back-to-back championship finals 1994-96 to the Wichita Thunder and Oklahoma City Blazers respectively.
2. Colin Murphy
Professional career 2004-13
Murphy played for Fort McMurray Oil Barons, helping them win the 2000 Royal Bank Cup on home ice.
Murphy made his pro debut with Toronto Maple Leafs American Hockey League affiliate St. John’s Maple Leafs in 2004-05. He would later make history after the Marlies relocated to Toronto, scoring the franchise’s first goal October 7, 2005.
After five years in the AHL, Murphy played four years in Deutsche Eishockey Liga, Germany’s top-tier league
3. Ross Harris
Professional career 1994-2002
During this time-span he was one of the most prolific scorers in all of professional hockey with an amazing 325 goals and 376 assists in 453 games.
Most of his time was spent in the Western Professional Hockey League and West Coast Hockey League.
He also strutted his talents in the off-season as a high scoring forward in the world of pro roller hockey for five consecutive seasons.
He would lead the Dallas Stallions in scoring in 1989-90 with 26 goals and 15 assists in 23 appearances.
4. Blue Bennefield
Professional career 1999-2007
The 6-foot-3 right winger wore the logos of the Smoke, Gladiators, Monsters, Frostbite, Kings, Ice Hawks, Mysticks and Steelheads.
Highest scoring season was 2003-04 with the Gwinnett Gladiators (ECHL) with 20 goals and 18 assists. He spent 273 minutes in the penalty box for the Adirondack Frostbite (UHL) in 2005-06.
Sharing fifth place are:
5a. Bobby Stewart
Professional career 1998-2004
After an NCAA Championship with the Main Black Bears (1998-99), Stewart would continue his winning ways with an Allan Cup title in 2008 with the Brantford Blast.
Tallied more than 80 points in the minor pros twice with the best output of 90 points behind 39 goals and 51 assists for the 2001-02 Idaho Steelheads (WCHL).
5b. Fraser Filipic
Professional career 2003-10
Filipic achieved something that few pro athletes find. He found a home in Loveland, Colorado spending seven consecutive seasons with the Colorado Eagles (CHL) with two titles in 2005 and 2007.
His main claim to fame is his 2009 one-punch knockout of Odessa Jackalopes’ Jean Bourbeau, which is rated No. 8 by Bleacher Sports for the “25 Best One-Punch Knockouts in Sports”.
Honourable mentions for skating for pay cheques are Tony Frenette, Kyle Johnson, Brad Mueller, Nathan Rosychuk and Vlad Serov.
Catch you on the rebound!