TULSA, OK– It’s been an interesting couple of games for the Tulsa Oilers in the last few nights.
In the span of two game the Oilers have turned a season in which it seemed they couldn’t buy a win into one with some promise as they defeated two quality opponents back-to-back at home. First was a stunning 3-0 shutout of the Quad City Mallards on Tuesday night and a dominant performance last night in a solid 7-2 victory over the Mississippi Riverkings last night. Prior to that the Oilers lone victory between opening weekend and Tuesday night was an unlikely shootout win in Colorado against the Eagles.
One of the big reasons for the Oilers success of late has been the stellar performance of goalie Ian Keserich. Keserich has three wins for the Oilers since his trade from Wichita and a 2.95 goals against average and a .920 save percentage. He was superb on Tuesday night, stopping all 29 shots from the Mallards and was the defining factor that kept Tulsa in full control of the Riverkings last night stopping 28 of 30 shots.
Tonight it would be the Bossier Shreveport Mudbugs who are riding a 7 game win streak, have the #1 power play unit in the league and have the 2nd overall penalty killing unit in the CHL through Thursday night. They also have the league’s leading goal scorer, David Rutherford, who has 12 goals in 17 games.
Rutherford would get the first of the Mudbugs goals on Friday night, a quick backhander he had to whack at twice before it went past Ian Keserich at 6:35 of the first. Jeff Martens got credit for the assist. Steven Crampton would capitalize on a Chad Costello tripping penalty at 19:05 and deflect it past Keserich at 19:05. The first period would end with the Mudbugs up 2-0.
Jeff Kryzakos would give Bossier a 3-0 lead with a goal at 5:36 of the second period assisted by Justin Aikins and Brett Smith. The potent Mudbug power play would strike again three minutes later at 8:37 when David Rutherford scored his second of the night off assists from Travis Clayton and Kryzakos. That would be it for goalie Ian Keserich, who would be pulled by Oilers coach Bruce Ramsay in favor of Tyler Sims.
The goalie change seemed to spark a change in the Oilers who managed to score their first goal of the night when Derek Eastman buried a shot in the net behind Mudbugs goalie John DeCaro on the power play at 11:08 of the second with Tom Dignard assisting.
Gary Steffes would open the 3rd period scoring for Tulsa, slipping the puck under DeCaro at 3:38 off an assist from Derek Hulak and Mike Beausoleil. Whatever hope of overcoming a 2 goal lead was dashed by Bossier’s Jim Jorgensen at 10:55, when they solved Tyler Sims goal on a crossing play in front of the net. Add a sixth marker from Jeff Martens assisted by David Rfutherford and just like that the Oilers win streak was at it’s end.
In the end the Mudbugs outshot the Oilers 29-23 and went 2-for-3 on the power play. The Oilers had a 1-for-3 power play run in the game, and between them goalies Sims and Keserich made 23 saves. Bruce Ramsay’s Oilers made a solid effort, but it was not enough to survive an run by what is the hottest and fastest moving team in the CHL.
Photos by: Kevin Pyle
The Oilers will head to Evansville, Indiana for their first ever meeting with the Evansville Icemen on Saturday, then they return home to take on the Mississippi Riverkings and the Missouri Mavericks next weekend on Friday and Saturday night.
Tickets for all Oiler games are available a the BOK Box Office, Tickets.com, Tulsa area Reasor’s stores, and by calling 1-866-7BOK-CTR (866-725-5287). More information is available by calling the Oilers office at 918-632-PUCK (7825).