IN THE NEWS
JAKE TAYLOR EXCITED ABOUT PLAYING FOR OKC
By Chris Wescott,
The Oklahoma City Barons' roster is still taking shape but one of the players who is certain to be in the capitol city this fall is defenseman Jake Taylor from Rochester, Minn.
A sixth-round draft choice (177th overall) of the New York Rangers in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, Taylor skated in three seasons with the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League from 2000-2003 where he totaled 19 points (9-10-19).
From there, Taylor went on to play for the University of Minnesota, and recorded eight points (2-6-8) in his one and only season with the Golden Gophers.
Following his stint at the university level, he entered the New York Rangers system with their AHL affiliate in Hartford. He played in 43 games for Hartford in the 04-05 season, while playing 11 in the ECHL for Charlotte.
Taylor spent the next three seasons rotating his playing time between Hartford and Charlotte again. From 05-08, Taylor appeared in 158 games for the American Hockey League and four in the East Coast Hockey League.
In 2008, Taylor moved his talents to the Edmonton Oilers' affiliate (Springfield Falcons). There, Taylor has played the past two seasons. He has appeared in 100 games for the Oilers' organization in their AHL program. Taylor says his time in the Edmonton organization has been enjoyable despite early struggles.
"My experience with Edmonton as an organization has been great," said Taylor. "The tough part has been for us in Springfield the last couple years. We didn't have very much success there, so that was obviously a little bit of a hard thing to swallow."
"That's tough, but Edmonton has believed in me enough to bring me back to Oklahoma City and obviously I appreciate that."
Taylor says that he is looking forward to starting fresh in Oklahoma City. Although he has never been to Oklahoma, he says that he has heard nothing but good things about the hockey fans that live here and cannot wait to play for them.
"I can't wait for that. I heard that from people, that the people followed the previous team and hopefully it will be the same for us. I can't wait to play in front of a good crowd that's enthusiastic about it. That's obviously the best scenario as a player. You get to play for people that love to watch you play and you can't ask for anything more than that. So, I'm definitely looking forward to that."
Given the fact that Barons' coach Todd Nelson was just named the head guy last Thursday, Taylor hasn't had the chance to speak with him. But, he says he hopes to talk soon with his new head coach.
"I don't know much about it him," said Taylor about Nelson. "other than a couple things I've read that he was the assistant coach for Atlanta (Thrashers). Besides that, I don't really know a lot about him. But, I'm hoping to talk to him soon, and I'm sure he's going to be a great coach."
When Todd Nelson was named the head coach he set the bar high for his first season on the job.
"Our goal is to win the Calder Cup," Nelson said. "And there's no better time than the first year."
In order to accomplish those goals, Taylor says the Barons will need the right mix of players and a strong showing on their home ice.
"I think it takes the right mix of guys. You need some guys who can put the puck in the net, you need your guys that can check. So obviously, a lot of those aspects got to come together. But, I think as long as everybody is on the same page as far as having a good work ethic. Obviously, winning at home is always a big thing and with the good fan base and all that, hopefully that is something we take pride in; being good at home."
Taylor agrees 100% with coach Nelson about striving for the ultimate goal of winning the Calder Cup even for a brand new team.
"There's no reason to put your skates on and play every night if you set your goals lower than that," said Taylor referring to the Calder Cup. "That's why you play the game, is to win."
Maybe Taylor's attitude towards winning is what caused his teammates in both Hartford and Springfield to vote him as an alternate captain the past three seasons.
Taylor has described himself as a hard worker, who can be relied upon to go out and play solid defense every night. His good work ethic and character are things to look forward to come October when the scoreboard's on and the fans are cheering.
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