News from around town: Oilers stay in second 8 December 2014

The Oilers have been playing consistent hockey, doing what they need to do to stay in second. Sports Writer Wade Crawford reports.

Wade Crawford

Through the past two and a half weeks of Oiler hockey, the team has had moderate success, going from 5–4–1–0 (wins, losses, overtime losses, shootout losses) to 11–8–1–2. This puts them behind the Allen Americans for second place in the Central Division of the Western Conference.

The stretch began on Nov. 18, as the Wichita Thunder visited the BOK Center. Oilers Steve Mele and T.J. Caig put Tulsa out to an early 2–0 lead in the first quarter, a lead that grew in the second period with a goal by Kyle O’Kane.

However, Tulsa was not able to find the goal for the rest of the game, as Wichita came back to tie the game at 3–3. After no scores occurred in the overtime period, Tulsa pulled through in the shootout, shutting out the Thunder.

The late comebacks caught up to the Oilers in their trip to Quad City the next day, after a 3–1 lead with less than two and a half minutes in regulation led to a 4–3 shootout loss. The first score didn’t happen until eight minutes into the second period, a backhand goal by Adam Pleskach. Jon Booras and Steve Mele also scored in the contest. The Mallards took a 2–1 shootout lead that it would not relinquish, sending the Oilers to Missouri with a loss.

The Oilers was back on the winning track, beating the Mavericks 4–1 on Nov. 21. Newly-acquired Maverick Josh Brittain scored at about three minutes into the game, and the home team was held to that goal the entire night. Despite having nine power plays, the Mavericks were unable to score on goalie Kevin Carr, who tallied 33 saves on the night. Oilers goals came from Jon Booras (two goals), Nathan Lutz and Drew Fisher.

Wichita returned to the BOK Center on the 23rd. The two teams each scored in the first period, with goals from Wichita’s Theo Peckham and O’Kane. This trend continued in the second period, as Wichita’s Kurtis Bartliff and Booras scored to make the game 2–2 going to the final 20 minutes of play. Booras sealed his third multi-goal game of the season with a power play score 12 minutes into the final period. The Thunder were not able to answer, and Tulsa secured a 3–2 victory.

Thanksgiving week did not treat the Oilers well, as Tulsa went 1–2, with one of the losses a close shootout loss. Both losses occurred at the hands of the Allen Americans, by scores of 3–1 and 5–4 (on Thanksgiving Day). The Oilers rebounded on the next day, defeating the Quad City Mallards 3–2.

Tulsa hit the road for the weekend, defeating the Thunder 3–2 in a shootout on the 30th to wrap up the month.

Through the first two games of December, the Oilers hit a rough patch, dropping two of three games to the division-leading Americans while being outscored 17–9. Last Tuesday, three combined goals by Tommy and Steve Mele wasn’t enough to match Allen’s offensive explosion in a 7–4 victory. The next night saw Allen cruise to a 5–1 victory, the only Tulsa tally coming from Matt Larke.

On Friday night, the Oilers and Allen Americans were matching goal-for-goal. Goals by Mele, Pleskach and O’Kane (2) answered Allen’s four goals and sent the contest to overtime and eventually a shootout. Rookie Kevin Carr continued his impressive 37-save night by stifling all five Allen shootout attempts, making Fisher’s shootout goal the equalizer in a 5–4 victory.

The next night didn’t go as well for the team, as they dropped a low-scoring game to the Missouri Mavericks, 2–1. Tulsa was shut out until exactly one minute was left in regulation, when Jon Booras finally found the net.

The Oilers now enjoy a five-game homestand. Wichita visits on consecutive Wednesday nights (Dec. 10 and 17), while other opponents include the Brampton Beast (making their first visit to Tulsa) on the 12th, Quad City on the 13th and Rapid City on the 19th.