Still Stavanger

Oilers win sixth consecutive championship


For the seventh time in eight years the Stavanger Oilers celebrate the Norwegian title with their golden helmets. Photo:

The Norwegian GET -Ligaen has always been a league of dynasties, dating all the way back to the 1930s when Grane won four titles in five years. The early 1950s were Furuset’s time, the early 1960s Gamlebyen’s and in the late 1960s, the league was dominated by Valerenga as the Oslo-based team won seven straight titles, and eight in nine years but then had to wait for a decade for its next championship. Between 1985 and 1993, Valerenga won the league six times. The late 1990s were the Storhamar era, as the Hamar-based team won four straight titles (and five in six years).

We entered the Stavanger Oilers dynasty at the beginning of this decade, and they haven’t yet reached the end as the oiltown’s aptly-named Oilers won their sixth consecutive Norwegian championship, beating Frisk Asker Tigers 5-2 in Game 6 of the best-of-seven final.

The two games they dropped to the Tigers were also the only games they lost in the post-season, having swept Stjernen and Sparta Warriors in the quarter-finals and the semi-finals, respectively.

The Oilers domination was complete as they also won the regular season title.

Pretty good for a team that played its first official game in 2001, in the Norwegian II division.

“This is unbelievably huge. It’s fantastic, we’ve been the best team from start to finish, and here we stand. It’s a great group of guys and I’m incredibly proud of them. This is wild,” said the Oiler’s 39-year-old coach Pal Kristian Guldbrandsen, who took the step from assistant to head coach this season, after five years as a player and then six as an assistant coach in the club.

“I think we were the best team, and played smart, except when we lost Game 2. This team is full of winners, and they proved it by rallying back in two straight games. Many people might crumble in situations like that, but not these guys. They refuse to lose,” he added.

The best team also had the top players. Stavanger’s goaltender Henrik Holm, the 2013 playoffs MVP, posted the best save percentage in the regular season and was the only goalie to start every single playoff game for his team. His goals against average in the 14 games was 1.93 and save percentage 93.0, up from 92.4 in the regular season.

The team’s American forwards Mark van Guilder and Dan Kissel finished first and second in both playoff and regular season scoring. Van Guilder won the regular season scoring race with 65 points in 45 games, Kissel was tied for first in goal scoring with 29 goals in 45 games. In the playoffs, they combined for 23 goals and 43 points in 14 games. They also led the plus/minus statistics in a convincing fashion. Van Guilder was plus-25 and Kissel plus-24 in the playoffs.

Both were voted into the First All-Star Team, and both earned contacts in Switzerland with NLB team EHC Visp.

One other key player also disappears, since the Oilers’ Christian Dahl Andersen, 36, has decided to hang ‘em up, having been a key player on the team during its entire dynasty. His eight Norwegian championships also include one with their 2017 opponent, Frisk Asker, in 2002.

“It’s fantastic to win the title with these guys. It’s great to win, but it’s sad that it’s over now,” he says.

He wasn’t talking about the Oilers era. We probably haven’t seen the last of them yet.




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