Stavanger Oilers check out Minnesota hockey

By Leslee Lane Hoyum
Rockford, Minn.
Norwegian American Weekly
Pål Higson, Oilers General Manager, and Bjørn Ims, Marketing Director, stand in front of an Oilers jersey hosted by the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce, Upper Midwest Chapter, in Minneapolis.

Pål Higson and Bjørn Ims

Principal Stavanger Oilers Hockey Club investor Tore Kristiansen and representatives of the Club’s other six investors were in Minneapolis recently to check out the features and technologies of the Minnesota hockey arenas that house its professional hockey team, The Wild, and the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.

According to Oilers’ Marketing Director Bjørn Ims, a new, state-of-the-art arena will be built in Stavanger with the groundbreaking scheduled for the summer of 2009. “This is a collaborative effort between private and public entities,” Ims said. “The land will come from public holdings and, not unlike the Wild with its Xcel Center in St. Paul, we hope to find a major promoter, which may determine its name.”  Ims also said that although the arena will be home to the Oilers, it also will be designed for concerts and other events.

“Our hockey season runs from September through February when the playoffs begin,” continued Ims. “As of today, we are in fourth place. Our greatest challenger is the Oslo Vålerenga Club, but we do expect to be number one!”

It was a win-win weekend for the Oilers’ investors. Not only did they gather a wealth of information and ideas for their new arena, but they saw The Wild beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 and the Gophers defeat Michigan Tech 3-0.

Established in 2000 as a company hockey team by Finnish businessman Harti Kristola and Finnish expatriate workers, the Stavanger Oilers attracted players from the higher echelons of Finnish hockey, as well as a number of former Norwegian national team players.

At the end of the 2002-2003 season, the Oilers managed five victories in the qualification play-offs with the only defeat at the hands of Bergen, which won on a penalty shoot-out. However, the Oilers record secured its promotion to the GET-liga, the premier Norwegian ice hockey league.

Kristola withdrew his financial support in 2004 when local Stavanger businessman Tore Christensen, the current major promoter, took over the club. Since Norwegian professional hockey allows only seven non-Norwegian players per team, the Oilers have chosen players from the United States, Sweden and Canada to supplement Norwegian teammates; no longer are there any Finnish players.

This article orginally ran in the Norwegian American Weekly on Dec. 5, 2008. For more information about the Norwegian American Weekly or to subscribe call 1(800) 305-0217 or email

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