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Seeing Stars

NHL hockey comes to BOK Center on Sept. 22

A packed BOK Center at a Tulsa Oilers game

TeeJay Crawford Photography

The Tulsa Oilers don’t open their 2018-19 season until Oct. 13, but the biggest hockey game of the year in Tulsa will take place on Saturday, Sept. 22 at the BOK Center when the Dallas Stars face off against the Florida Panthers in an NHL pre-season contest.

It’s a unique, rare opportunity for area hockey fans to get a glimpse of elite NHL players such as Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and John Klingberg in person instead of just watching them on TV. It will be the first-ever NHL game in Tulsa.

“I think having the game in Tulsa is great for hockey,” said Oilers coach Rob Murray. “Hopefully, it’s a good game. There is a rule in the NHL that says every exhibition game, 10 guys in your lineup have to have NHL experience of some sort. Hopefully the Stars come with all their stars and play them. I’m looking forward to it.”

The process of bringing the NHL to town started with the management team at the BOK Center pitching the idea to the Dallas front office.

“I believe that they called us wanting for us to come up to the BOK Center and have a game,” Alberts said. “So we talked about it and said, ‘Sure.’ Obviously, you’ve got to work through the money, and we went and got Florida to be the opponent. Tulsa is on the outskirts, basically, of our viewership area (with Stars games televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma), but they are in it, so we were like, ‘Hey, there’s Stars fans up there and there’s no (NHL) hockey team, obviously, in Oklahoma, so it’s not a bad place to expand a pre-season schedule and go play a game.’ And that’s a great building.”

Even though Alberts has never been to the BOK Center, the arena’s reputation is well-known.

“I know it’s a very good building,” Alberts said. “I know, from just being in the business, and SMG runs it and SMG’s our partner at our minor league facility in Austin (the AHL’s Texas Stars), so we chatted with those guys, and that building gets rave reviews in the industry. I know it’s a very, very good building.”

Alberts is confident that Tulsa hockey fans will come out and fill the building, and acknowledged that a large, enthusiastic crowd could prompt more Stars pre-season games here in the future.

“It’s possible, yes, for sure,” Alberts said. “Let’s see how the attendance is, because then the building and SMG will have to decide whether or not that was a good business decision to have another game. And if it is, I would presume that they will ask us, and if we have a good experience up there, which I’m presuming we will, then we may want to do it again, for sure. It’d be great if there was a good crowd.”

So Tulsa hockey fans are encouraged to pack the BOK, and wear green to support the Stars. Click here for tickets, which start as low as $23.

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