TULSA, OK—Another sparse crowd greeted the 7-3-0 Tulsa Oilers as they took on the 2-8-1 Wichita Thunder at the amazing BOK Center Tuesday night as the Oilers attempted to extend to four a win streak begun last Saturday night in Mississippi. They also wanted to make it extend the current home win streak that currently stands at 5 wins.
For Wichita it’s a different story. Brent Bilodeau, the Thunder’s head coach at the start of the season was shown the door after a dismal 2-7 start, and the reins passed to veteran forward Jason Duda in the interim. Since assuming command the Duda-era Thunder have so far posted a 0-1-1 record. Wichita lost its 6th straight in Missouri over the weekend, so it’s clear that the once-mighty Thunder came into Tulsa looking to make a turnaround.
Violence has been a hallmark of the Oilers-Thunder history, and it only took 44 seconds to elapse in the first before Tulsa heavyweight Rick Kozak hooked up in a fight with the Thunder’s Chris McAllister. The altercation brief, Wichita quickly capitalized on the energy surge from the fight and found the back of the net behind Oiler goalie Kevin Armstrong, Joel Hanson slamming the biscuit home. Later with Hanson serving a hooking penalty, the Oilers T.J. Caig…the CHL’s Oakley player of the week last week, slipped the puck past Wichita goalie Scott Campbell on the power play with Aaron Davis and Mike Beausoleil assisting. In scoring the goal, Caig has 11 extra-man goals on the season, good enough for 2nd in the CHL.
Tulsa would strike again, this time at even strength when Dan Riedel slammed the puck in on Campbell’s right side at the 11:43 mark with Caig and Rob Hisey assisting. Tom Maldonado took a sweet pass from behind the Wichita net from Aaron Davis to score a goal with T.J. Caig getting the second helper. Proving that they still had some life left in them, Wichita left wing Brandon Kaleniecki pushed in an unassisted goal, his first this season, to end the period with Tulsa up 3-2.
Both teams started the 2nd period tenuously, with several; good scoring chances and end-to-end action. More violence came in the form of another fight, this time between the Oilers Jake Riddle and Mark Adamek, and though that fight was as brief as the Kozak-McAllister bout in the first period, Riddle barely got a punch in before Adamek took him to the ice. To add insult to that referee Justin Greene assessed Riddle with a two minute roughing minor, which the Oilers killed off as a matter of course. The Oilers outshot Wichita 11-3 but the score remained 3-2 at the 2nd break.
The 3rd period started much as the 2nd did, with both teams flying in on odd man rushes, going hard into the corners, and attacking the puck like wild men. It wasn’t until the 16:18 mark of the 3rd did the Oilers Jake Riddle find the back of the net, with Derek Merlini and Rick Kozak assisting. With the Thunder net vacant Wichita’s Jason Deleurme scored at the 19:07 mark, tightening the game to 4-3. The Thunder played much of the final minute with their goalie on the bench , but the extra attacker didn’t help as the game ended with Tulsa on top 4-3.
The Oilers went 2-for-5 on the power-play and were outshot 34-27 for the game. The next contest for Tulsa is the Missouri Mavericks in the brand new Independence Events Center, then back home for a Sunday afternoon matinee against Wichita at 4:05pm.
Tickets are on sale at the BOK Center box office, tulsaoilers.com, and all Reasors locations for all the Oilers home games.
Photos: Kevin Pyle
REFEREE: Justin Greene
LINES 1: Benjamin Dupuis
LINES 2: John Grandt
1ST STAR: Caig, TJ (TUL)
2ND STAR: Deleurme, Jason (WIC)
3RD STAR: Davis, Aaron (TUL)