The 2011-2012 season starts with some expected changes; and a few unexpected changes. The Sooner squad begins their season sitting with a 7th seed ranking. Oklahoma takes the ice for its 9th season without six of their seniors and a new head coach behind the bench. The three top Sooner scorers return from last season, forwards Blake Martin, Chad Hudson and Jesse Bryant, along with hot goaltender Matt Pombo (3.80 GAA, 0.89 %). Tender Brad Roth left the Sooners in the off-season, getting signed with the NAHL’s Chicago Hitmen
With Roth’s departure, we see new face Louis Libin (0.667%) move into place, along with former University of Central Oklahoma goalie Nick Holmes. We hope to see great things from our former enemy.
Head Coach Mark Berge stepped down in the off-season, siting family reasons. Assistant coach Peter Arvanitis stepped up to head the Sooner bench this season. Arvanitis comes in with plenty of hockey and defensive experience in Oklahoma, playing for the now defunct Oklahoma City Blazers for 7 seasons. This will be Arvanitis’s first stint as a head coach, serving as assistant in the past with the OKC Blazers and Sooners.
Due to Arvanitis taking over the reins, a familiar face in the Oklahoma hockey world is getting his shot as an assistant bench boss. Former Sooner captain Austin Miller will stand beside Arvanitis in the box and work his skills on the young men now suited up. Miller also brings experience with playing on a Division 1 squad, suiting up with the Providence Friars of Hockey East for one year.
Oklahoma was able to start their season a week ahead of the already set schedule over unforeseen issues with Arkansas and Emory, who were originally scheduled to meet. Emory did not suit up a team this year, handing an opportunity over to the Sooners and Razorbacks to meet for the first time on Friday, Sept. 16th. The Sooners went home with a 7-3 victory over Division 3 Arkansas. Newcomer defenseman Kevin Zehnder put 2 in the net in the third period helping solidify the win. Another new addition to the roster this year, Matt McKinney, also scored a goal in the game for OU.
The Sooners will host Texas (D2) for a pair of games in their home opening weekend Sept. 23rd and 24th.
You can find the remainder of the schedule for OU hockey here.