On Wednesday July 22nd, the Tulsa Oilers announced the signings of their first two rookies so far this summer. They come in the form of a duo, two talented teammates as well as close friends. On Wednesday, defensemen Joey Colatarci and forward Dean ‘Dino’ Balsamo joined the club after each earning All-American honours during their final season with Adrian College.
Adrian College is a swiftly rising college-hockey powerhouse based out of Michigan, competing in the NCHA conference at the Division-III level of NCAA Hockey. The program only started in 2007, but has already racked up an astonishing 11 regular season conference titles, eight NCHA playoff crowns, nine NCAA Tournament appearances and three trips to the D-III Frozen Four. This past season, the Bulldogs went 21-5-3, won the Peters Cup as NCHA regular season champs, claimed NCHA Playoff’s Harris Cup and were set to challenge for a national crown when the season was halted to due to COVID-19.
As such, they joined in doing so along with all NCAA sports. Balsamo and Colatarci were each named AHCA/CCM First-Team All-Americans for Divisions II and III, becoming the 17th and 18th All-American selections in Adrian history.
Balsamo is a 24-year-old forward from Sterling Heights, Michigan who transferred to Adrian after playing in just nine games for D-1 Bentley University. Doing so in 2016-17, he posted two goals and one assist for Bentley, then added six goals and five assists for Adrian over the final 16 games of the year. Balsamo was a point-per-game guy during his tenure with Adrian, notching 108 points in 101 total games (46G, 62A).
He finished on a high note as his senior season totals of 19 goals, 21 assists and 40 points all accumulated to being career bests. Balsamo was also a recognized leader, wearing an ‘A’ for the Bulldogs as a senior. On top of his All-American pick as a senior, Balsamo was also named to the 2020 NCHA All-Conference team. Not only that, he was also invited to the 2019 NCHA All-Tournament squad. Balsamo leaves Adrian College as the school’s active all-time scoring leader.
Colatarci, from Fort Myers, Florida, joined Adrian after playing nearly 150 games over three seasons spanned for the Summerside Western Capitals. The 6’2 defender tallied an impressive 89 points for the Caps, including 43 points (9G, 34A) in 47. This of course was the case during the 2015-2016 season.
He also accumulated 248 penalty minutes in three junior seasons, but cut that drastically to 73 penalty minutes in four collegiate seasons. This is a clear indicator of a player who has two key ingredients for a big defender at the professional level: a burning passion and competitive fire that has a tendency to erupt, but also the ability to learn to channel that emotional edge and use that passion to attain positive results for the team. Colatarci contributed 15 goals and 45 assists to the Bulldogs cause over his four seasons.
This included career bests seven goals, 18 assists and 25 points in his senior season. As well as his All-American honours as a senior, Colatarci was also a 2020 NCHA All-Conference pick and was named to the 2017 NCHA All-Freshman team.
Normally leaving for your first professional gig is a very lonely experience, and while it will still be a new start for each, Balsamo and Colatarci have the added benefit of embarking on this journey with a close and trusted friend right by their side. The Puck Authority was able to connect with Colatarci on Friday morning to ask him how it felt to not only sign his first professional contract, but to also be able to share the experience with Balsamo.
“Very excited to get to Tulsa, I’ve heard nothing but great things about the Oilers and coach Murray. I’m ready to get to work and contribute to the team. As for having a college teammate join me, also very exciting,” Colatarci continued. “Dean was one of my close friends at Adrian College, played four years with him there, so just even knowing one person will make the transition easier.”
Tulsa fans should be excited for the pair to join the Oilers hockey club next season. This reporter sees this tandem quickly becoming favourites among the Oiler faithful. Stay with The Puck Authority for more on Colatarci, Balsamo and all things Tulsa.
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