TULSA– The Tulsa Oilers, ECHL affiliate of the National Hockey League’s St. Louis Blues, and Head Coach Rob Murray announced the team’s first player signing for the 2018-19 season Thursday.
Veteran defenseman Steven Kaunisto agreed to terms on a contract to return to Tulsa for a second season with the Oilers.
Kaunisto, 31, enters his 10th pro season after posting career-best numbers in 2017-18 with the Oilers. The Sault Ste. Marie, MI native was named Tulsa’s Defensive Player of the Year, after compiling 29 points (6g, 23a) in 71 games, high marks in his six-year ECHL career.
“I am excited to be coming back and hope to improve on what I did last year to help the team as much as I can,” said Kaunisto. “We had a pretty good season last year, but fell short of what we wanted to do. With Coach Murray being here all year, I know he will put together another great team and we will get into the playoffs and make a push for a championship.”
The 6-0, 192 pound defenseman has 174 points (38g, 136a) in 448 career ECHL and Central Hockey League games. Kaunisto previously played for Reading, Rapid City, Florida, Kalamazoo, Brampton and Elmira in the ECHL, as well as Wichita, Allen, Missouri, Arizona and Denver in the CHL.
“Steve was a great leader for us last season,” said Murray. “His game got better and better as we went along and I’m really happy to have him back in Tulsa. He is a guy that competes and cares every night.”
Prior to turning pro, Kaunisto spent four seasons at Lake Superior State University, where he finished with 59 points (14g, 45a) in 154 games for the Lakers from 2006-2010.
The Oilers open the season Oct. 13 on home ice at the BOK Center, when they face-off against the Idaho Steelheads at 7:05 p.m. The two teams will complete Opening Weekend at 4:05 p.m. Oct. 14 with a rematch at the BOK Center, followed by a postgame skate for the fans with the Oilers players.
Oilers’ season and group tickets are on sale now. Call the Oilers’ front office at 918-632-PUCK (7825) or visit www.tulsaoilers.com for more information.
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