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Wichita Thunder hockey owners buy rival Tulsa franchise

  • Published Tuesday, June 25, 2013, at 2:29 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, June 25, 2013, at 3:59 p.m.

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Thunder owners Rodney, Brandon and Johnny Steven have purchased the Tulsa Oilers, one of the Thunder’s rivals in the Central Hockey League.

The Thunder and Oilers are the last two original CHL franchises after 21 seasons. Tulsa won the league’s first championship in 1993 but hasn’t won it since, and has qualified for the playoffs once since 2005.

“My job, really I feel, in Tulsa is going to be easy,” Rodney Steven said Tuesday at a news conference in Tulsa. “You guys have a good fan base here, they’re just dying to win here and it’s been a while.”

Owning multiple CHL teams at once is not new. The Thunder’s original owner, Horn Chen, owned all seven CHL franchises at one time. He sold the Thunder to the Steven brothers in August 2011.

The owners of the Missouri Mavericks also own the new CHL franchise in St. Charles, Mo.

Steven Brothers Sports Management, which bought the Thunder two years ago, purchased the Oilers from Jeff Lund, the club’s majority owner since 1999. Lund has been part of the Oilers’ management since the team’s inception and will continue to own the team’s practice facility and the Junior Oilers, a Western State Hockey League team.

“The main people that are really going to benefit from this is the fans,” Tulsa general manager Taylor Hall said. “Our fans are so loyal for so long and have been waiting to have a winning hockey club.”

An Oilers purchase price was not disclosed. The deal comes five days after the league’s owners bought out the Western Professional Hockey League to take ownership of the CHL. Rodney Steven was named interim director of that ownership group.

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