Vernal Oilers Tear Through USPHL Playoffs, Hockey Interest Soars In Uintah Basin

Mar 14, 2024, 11:34 AM | Updated: 11:49 am

Vernal Oilers hold up championship banner...

Photo courtesy of the Vernal Oilers

SALT LAKE CITY – The Vernal Oilers have secured their second consecutive Northwest division title at the USPHL Premier level by defeating the visiting Seattle Totems by a 2-1 series score.

By finishing first in the regular season with a record of 29-9-4-2, the Oilers secured home-ice advantage for the duration of the playoffs and began the postseason by sweeping the Rogue Valley Royals (Medford, OR) by scores of 9-2 and 5-2 in the best-of-three series.

Oilers Rally In Front Of Packed Home Crowd

Up next was the second-place Seattle Totems for a rematch of the 2023 Northwest division final, and after dropping a tightly contested game one by a score of 5-4, the Oilers rallied in front of a packed Western Park Ice Arena to defeat the visiting Totems by scores of 5-1 in game two, and 6-2 in game three to defend the divisional title.

Logan Powers (Spokane, WA) paced the Oilers with 10 points in 5 playoff games, and Rodion Gornostaev (Russia); Austin Osborn (United Kingdom); and Jonathan Jakshoj (Denmark) each recorded 8 points each during the post-season. Goaltender Levente Hegedus (Hungary) started all three games during the divisional final, making 82 saves on 90 shots and recording a .911 save percentage.

“Nationals has been our goal since day one,” said GM David Imonti. “We built a deep team that would help us compete against the best teams in the country, and I feel we are poised to improve over last year’s showing.”

@kslsportscom When in doubt… throw a trash can??? #hockey #hockeyislife #vernaloilers #juniorhockey #hockeytiktoks ♬ Coming In Hot – Andy Mineo & Lecrae

The Oilers are coached by former Calgary Flames draft pick and Utah Grizzlies forward Ryan Howse.

“We now have big things to look forward to in the coming week,” Howse said. “This group has impressed me all year. It’s one of the best groups I have been a part of. We enjoy each other. We fight like brothers but we love each other like a family. We found a way to get through adversity. Going to nationals is a big goal of ours and I couldn’t be more proud of my group.”

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Vernals Oilers At USPHL National Championship

The Oilers have secured a berth in the USPHL National Championship tournament that will take place in Utica, NY from March 21 until March 26.

The tournament features the top 16 teams in the 61 team premier division of the USPHL vying for a National title.

Vernal will face the Fort Wayne Spacemen at 2:15 PM EST on March 21, and the Ontario Jr. Reign at 7:45 EST on March 22 during round-robin play, and will be re-seeded based on performance for the elimination rounds beginning March 23.

Utah Puck Report is a podcast all about Utah hockey, from interviews with NHL stars to which Grizzlies players are about to take the next step, Utah Puck Report has everything for a Utah hockey fan. Find it wherever you find podcasts or on KSLSports.com. The show is hosted by KSL Sports’ hockey insider, Jay Stevens.

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Vernal Oilers Tear Through USPHL Playoffs, Hockey Interest Soars In Uintah Basin