TULSA, OK—With a stomach full of Thanksgiving meals and holiday cheer in their hearts, the Tulsa Oilers kicked off the holidays hosting a game with the brand new Missouri Mavericks. The Oilers entered the game with a head of steam they have not had for several years, and the Tulsa squad looked to extend the good fortune they’ve enjoyed of late.
It’s being called simply, “The Streak”. The Tulsa Oilers are riding on a win streak not seen in nearly 10 years. First off, the Oilers haven’t lost a game in two weeks time, since a 5-2 decision over the Rapid City Rush on November 13th. They also have a 7-0 win record in the amazing BOK Center, the longest win streak so far in the new building.
The first-year Mavericks have had a mediocre record to date in the 2009-10 season at 4-8-1. The new team based in Independence, Missouri has several players who are very familiar to Oilers fans, chief among them last years Oilers team scoring champ Jeff Christian, who is the Mavericks player-assistant coach. A number of former Oklahoma City Blazers players landed there after the Blazers ceased operations last summer as well. Tulsa has the distinction of posting the first defeat of the Mavericks in their new building.
The Oilers scored the first goal of the contest, a power play goal by Derek Eastman assisted by Aaron Davis and T.J. Caig. T.J. Caig’s assist continues a point streak in which he has posted a goal or and assist or both in each of the last 4 games. The Mavericks answered back with a goal of their own at 14:31 of the first when former Blazer Mike Burgoyne slid the puck past Oilers Goalie Kevin Armstrong with Bill Vandermeer and Jeff MacDermid assisting. The period would end knotted at 1.
Missouri would take the lead at 2-1 on a goal by Nick Sirota, assisted by Derek Pallardy and Chad Hinz at 4:16of the 2nd period, and Jeff Christian would pull the Mavericks ahead two goals with a blast from the top of the right hand circle at 9:53 assisted by Hinz. Then the Oilers maven Rob Hisey took a lead pass from player –assistant Tyler Butler and tucked the biscuit past Missouri goalie Alexandre Vincent shorthanded at 11:18. Tulsa began playing with urgency at that point. At 15:07 Andrew Davis and Jake Riddle of the Oilers squared off at center ice, and the two men fought to the usual draw. The period would end with Tulsa behind 3-2.
One of the hallmarks of this season’s Tulsa Oilers is the never-say-die attitude towards being behind a goal at the break. In previous years, the Oilers would have closed down and played a listless, ineffective game that would usual end in a miserable defeat. Since Coach Bruce Ramsay didn’t sign a bunch of players to be that way the Oilers got right to work in the 3rd period with two quick goals to take the lead. First to score and tie the game would be Mike Beausoleil, assisted by Aaron Davis and T.J Caig at 1:19, followed soon after by another Oilers mark on the power-play by Aaron Davis, assisted by Derek Eastman and Tom Maldonado at 2:51. To make things interesting, the Mavericks would come up with a tying goal with a little less than 9 minutes left to knot the score at 4-4.
Despite their relative positions in the standings the Oilers and Maverick were surprisingly evenly matched in both games they have played so far. In their previous meeting in Independence on November 20, the Oilers had to win the game in the final minute of regulation 5-4 with t.J. Caig netting the game winner with 43 seconds left. This time there would be no such heroics as the game would come to its regulation conclusion at 4-4 headed into the extra frame.
At the end of regulation in the CHL, if the score is tied the teams each receive a point in the standings and to win, they must either score in overtime or, failing that in the 5 minute extra period, they go to penalty shots to decide the game. The teams would also play four players aside, the idea being that the ice would be more open and scoring would come faster.
It gets complicated when there are players on the penalty box, and while the penalties carry over the total time they have to spend in the box is cut in half which complicated things at the beginning of the extra session. In a game where referee Jon McIssac otherwise had things well in hand, it took better than 5 minutes to decide how much time the Oilers Rick Kozak and Missouri’s Andrew Davis would have remaining as they were in the boxes when regulation time ran out.
Five minutes of tight action gave way to the shootout, the first this season in the BOK Center. For those unfamiliar with the shootout in hockey, it’s basically penalty shots, one-on-one with the goalies and the team with most goals wins. Both teams would score goals in the opening round but Mike Burgoyne would score in the final round to end the shootout and hand the Oilers their first loss in the BOK Center this season. The loss would also end the win streak Tulsa has been on since the middle of November.
Tulsa moves on to face the Texas Brahmas tomorrow night in the BOK Center, and tickets for that game and all Oilers home contests are available at all Reasors locations and the BOK Center box office.
Photos: Kevin Pyle
GAME LENGTH: 2:47
1ST STAR: Davis, Aaron (TUL)
2ND STAR: Hinz, Chad (MIZ)
3RD STAR: Christian, Jeff (MIZ)