Walter R. Whiteside, a Minnesota millionaire, organzed the first Tulsa Oilers franchise in 1928. Whiteside and his brother Robert, both hockey enthusiasts, began construction on the Tulsa Coliseum, located on Elgin between 5th and 6th streets, in 1928 and the Oilers held their inaugural game inside the Coliseum on New Year’s Day in 1929. It is interesting to note that Tulsa had the first man-made ice rink in the southern United States – south of the Mason-Dixon line.
The December 30th, 1928 edition of The Tulsa Tribune printed a multipage segment on the upcoming Tulsa Oilers and Coliseum grand opening, on January 1st, 1929. The team roster and management appeared on a full page spread, with photos and a brief write-up on the new sporting event coming to Tulsa. Below is a transcription of the article, along with photographs of the players and management, and my additional notes.
The Tulsa Oilers Team and Management
Coaching Staff and Owner:
Dick Carroll, Coach. Carroll hails from Toronto, Ont. And has lived with the game of hockey all his life. He is one of the best known figures of the sport having coached several world’s championship teams. He was formerly with the Duluth “Hornets” and the Pittsburgh “Yellowjackets.”
Sam Kerne, Trainer. Kerne comes from Duluth, MInn. For the past several seasons Kerne has been trainer for the Duluth Hornets. During the same period he acted as trainer for the Ernie Nevers professional football team, the Duluth Eskimos.
Manager O’Brien. Joseph C. O’Brien, Manager. Mr. O’Brien is a familiar figure in professional hockey. After spending several years as a player himself, Mr. O’Brien now devotes his time to the business end of the sport. He comes to Tulsa from Minneapolis, where he has been prominent in a managerial capacity.
President Whiteside, Owner. Walter R. Whiteside, president, and owner of the Tulsa “Oilers.” This well-known Tulsa business man has always had a deep interest in the sport. A native of Minnesota, he fully realizes the keep enjoyment to be found in hockey and it is through his enterprise that Tulsa has entered the ranks of those cities privileges to enjoy the game.
Donald Moffatt, Left Wing. Home address: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
- PT Note: Moffatt is listed as “Donald” in the Oilers documentation however this seems to be Ronald Moffatt (1905-1960) who appears in the Internet Hockey Database. He was born in Westhope, North Dakota in 1905 and died in 1960. His hockey career began in the Western Canada Hockey League in 1925-26 with the Saskatoon Crescents and moved to the Saskatoon Sheiks of the Prairie Hockey League. In 1928 he signed on with the Tulsa Oilers and remained for 4 years until 1932 when the Detroit Red Wings signed him as a free agent.
- Ron Moffatt entry at hockeydb.com
- PT Note: Ambrose Joseph “Amby” Moran (1895-1958)
- Legends of Hockey Biography.
- Amby Moran (FindAGrave biography)]
- Amby Moran entry at hockeydb.com
Bob Trapp, Defense. Hails from Edmonton, Alberta
- Leo Lafrance (1902-1993) “The Flying Frenchman”
- Legends of Hockey – Leo LaFrance
- Leo LaFrance entry at hockeydb.com
Onslow Millard Wakeford (M[illard] Wakeford) (July 1907-Jan. 2009), Right Wing. Home Address, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
- PT Note: His #12 jersey was retired by the Tulsa Oilers in 1996.
- Millard “Sonny Boy” Wakeford – Lucky Number 7 (in Tulsa People Magazine)
- Millard “Sonny Boy” Wakeford entry at hockeydb.com
- Augustus Solberg Marker (August 1, 1907 – October 7, 1997)
- Gus Marker entry at hockeydb.com
Tommy Cook, Center. Is from Fort Williams, Ont.
- Thomas “Tommy” John Cook (1907-1961)
- Tommy Cook Hockey Statistics hockeydb.com
Tony Costello [Christello?], Goalkeeper, is one of the youngest players in the game, a product of Duluth, Minn.
Frank Sheppard, Left Wing, from Selkirk, Manitoba, though not very big is a tricky stick handler and a dandy skater.
Gordon “Duke” Keats. “The Fox.” Of Edmonton, Alberta. Is known wherever the game is played.
Art Townsend, Defense. Comes to the Oilers from Winnipeg, Manitoba.
[Following text from the newspaper account.]
“As the Premiere of the Coliseum, Tulsa’s new castle of wonders, the city’s first professional hockey team will play its initial game on the evening of January 1. On that evening, the Tulsa “Oilers,” as the team will be known, will usher in the season of winter sports in a contest with the Duluth “Hornets.” The second game of the series will be played two evenings later with the same team.
At schedules dates thereafter, The Tulsa Oilers will play Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, — a second series, — Kansas City and St. Louis, all at the Coliseum. At different times, between these contests, there will also be played eight games which were scheduled to be staged Tulsa during the earlier part of the season. These will be in addition to the many contests in which the team waill engage in other cities.
Tulsa is particularly fortunate in the opportunities which played a part in the selection of a team. Every man of the Oilers is an experienced, brilliant and spectacular player. All of them are stars. They names which appear upon the team’s roster are known wherever the game of hockey is played.
The team, a picture which appears above, is composed of Frank Sheppard, Tommie Cook, Edward (Ted) graham, Bob Trapp, Art Townsend, “Red” MCusker, Amby Moran, August (Gus) Marker, Ronald (Ron) Moffat, E. McCalmon, Millard Wakeford, Gordon (Duke) Keats, Tony Costello, and Leo La France, “the Flying Frenchman.”
Joseph C. O’Brien, formerly of Minneapolis, who is widely known both as a business man and for his interest in sports, will manage the team, and Dick Carroll, who knows the game as few others do, has been signed as coach.
Tulsa has always been proud of its athletes and has always given them the heartiest of support. It is but fair, then, that those upon whom has evolved the responsibility of selecting this, Tulsa’s first professional hockey team, should have spared no expense and no effort to assemble a team which would merit the city’s confidence.
In presenting this assemblage of stars to the public, the management is endeavoring to live up to the spirit of its responsibilities. It is felt that the Tulsa Oilers will be fully deserving of the confidence that has been an outstanding characteristic of the Tulsa public.
To those others who have never witnessed this the absorbing sport, an invitation is extended to attend this first game of the season. This invitation is extended in the knowledge that nowhere else in the broad expanse of Oklahoma can be found such an enjoyable, exciting, thrilling 60 minutes of pleasure.
In the forthcoming games of the season, there will be many treats in store for Tulsa sports lovers. Many Tulsans, having seen hockey contest, realize the thrill and the throbbing exhilaration that spectators of such a game experience. To such, the management needs not extend an invitation – only a welcome.
New Ice will be Frozen for each period of skating.”
- The Internet Hockey Database
- The Tulsa Historical Society
- Tulsa Figure Skating Club History
- The Oklahoma Historical Society
- The Tulsa Coliseum (Wikipedia)
Links to other Oklahoma Hockey articles:
- Hockey in Oklahoma – Yes, Virginia, Hockey does exist in Oklahoma! (Sept. 21, 2011)
- History of Hockey in Oklahoma Series (December 5, 2011)