Oilers headed to CHL Playoff for the first time since 2005.
TULSA, OK– Tulsa Oilers hockey fans can rejoice that finally, the “magic number” worked in their favor on Tuesday night. Even though they lost in overtime to longtime rival Wichita 3-2, they still made it into the post season thanks the wonder of playoff mathematics.
While it would have been much sweeter to celebrate the Oilers return to playoff hockey for the first time since 2005, beleaguered Tulsa fans can take heart that instead of sneaking into to CHL Playoffs like they have in previous seasons the Oilers are right there, in the thick of things.
Going into the night’s action the following scenario was in play with Tulsa’s playoff hopes: It all came down to the first tiebreaker, which the Oilers held over the Laredo Bucks, who hosted the Arizona Sundogs tonight The Oilers would clinch the playoff spot if: The Oilers won, Laredo loses to Arizona in regulation time, or if the Oilers lose in overtime/shootout AND Laredo loses to Arizona in overtime/shootout.
Tulsa battled to a 3-2 overtime loss to the Thunder, and the Sundogs defeated Laredo 2-1 in regulation time. With the overtime loss the Oilers got the magic number of one and assured themselves a spot in the field of 16 teams, eight from each conference, that would battle it out for the Ray Miron President’s Cup in the 2011 CHL Playoffs. The Thunder will also be in the CHL post-season, having already sealed their bid.
As for the contest tonight in the BOK Center, it was a much tighter game than any of the 4,262 on hand expected as the teams battled to a scoreless tie in the first period, and with just 7:58 elapsed off the clock in the second period Oilers forward John Mori shoved the puck past Wichita goalie Marc-Antoine Gelinas to give Tulsa a 1-0 lead. At 13:10 former Oiler Aaron Davis would tie the game 1-1, and at 18:19 Tom Dignard scooped up a misplayed pass in the neutral zone, skated in on Gelinas and fired it home to give Tulsa a 2-1 edge going into the second intermission..
The Thunder would tie the game at 5:28 of the third period on a goal by Mike Looby and the game moved to the overtime session. With a little over 45 seconds remaining in the extra period, and after a flurry of shots and deflections in front of Oilers goalie Trevor Cann, Troy Schwab snapped a backhand shot into the net just inside the left post to give the Thunder a hard-earned overtime victory, and simultaneously deflate the enthusiastic Oilers crowd.
The Oilers will now embark on a six-game beginning on Friday against the Rapid City Rush, a team the Oilers beat a week ago in the BOK Center 4-2. The Oilers will not darken the door of the mothership until March 26th when they host the Thunder once again. The game will be preceded by an “old timers” game featuring former Oilers and Thunder players. Tulsa and Wichita won the first three seasons of the reborn Central Hockey League, with the Oilers winning the 1992-93 championship, and the Thunder taking back-to-back titles in 1993-94 and 1994-95.
The Oilers will wrap up the 2010-11 regular season with a afternoon matinee game when they host the Allen Americans at 4:05pm on March 27th. That game will feature a benefit hockey game between the combined teams of the Tulsa Police and Fire Department, and the Oklahoma City Police and Fire Department at 1:05.
Tickets for all Oilers games are available at 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). There is no word as yet regarding playoff games or tickets.