The ideal situation for the Tulsa Oilers this season would be the hoisting of the CHL Ray Miron President’s Cup at the end of the Finals, a triumphant victory parade through the streets of Tulsa and the presentation of championship rings to coach Bruce Ramsay and his club in front of the Oilers adoring fans.
Sadly, it was not meant to be.
Mudbugs prevail over Tulsa 3-2 in overtime thriller.
Overtime hockey in the playoffs is not for the faint of heart.
In the playoffs overtime periods are 20 minutes long and once a team scores, that’s it. If you have two evenly matched teams, like the Tulsa Oilers and the Bossier Shreveport Mudbugs, the string of overtime periods might go on for a very long time indeed.
After a very tight game that saw plenty of back-and-forth action it was the Mudbugs Andy Contois who faked Oilers goalie Ian Keserich out of position to bury the puck in the net and silence just over 5,000 Oilers fans in the BOK Center last night at the 7:27 mark of the overtime period.
Contois goal ended the game and forced a deciding game in Bossier City on Saturday night. It is the second such game 5 situation for the Oilers, who emerged from behind a 2-game deficit to defeat the Mississippi Riverkings to advance to the Berry Conference Semifinal round.
Former NHL player Bates Battaglia opened the scoring in the game for the Oilers on the power play at the 12:15 mark of the first period, stuffing the puck through Mudbug goaltender John DeCaro and giving the Oilers a 1-0 lead. Jim Jorgensen tied the game for Bossier Shreveport on a blast from the left circle at 11:32 of the second, and Jeff Kryzakos gave the Mudbugs a 2-1 lead just 5:07 into the third period,
Mike Beausoleil evened the score at 2-2 at 13:40 of the 3rd to send the game into overtime.
For hockey fans, it was about as perfect a game as you could get. The Oilers managed to stay with the Mudbugs in shots, nearly matching them with 31 shots to their 32. The Oilers scored the only power play goal of the game and ended up going 1-for-7 on the man advantage to Bossier’s 0-for-3 showing.
Tulsa fall short in the swamp.
Soon after the game on Friday night, the Tulsa Oilers loaded their bus and headed down south, back to the CenturyTel Center for a fifth and deciding game in the Central Hockey League’s semifinals. Saturday’s game would decide who would face the Allen Americans in the Berry Conference Championships that will begin next week. The Americans defeated the Odessa Jackalopes in what would be the Jacks final game ever as a member of the Central Hockey League on Friday night 3-1 and eliminating them from the 2010-11 CHL Playoffs.
It was announced shortly before the playoffs began that the Jackalopes would be suspending operations after their run in the playoffs was over.
In the end, it was an insurmountable lead on Saturday night that did the Oilers in. Tulsa held the Mudbugs scoreless until the 11:39 mark of the first period when Mudbug forward Nick Layton scored, assisted by Justin Aikins and Steven Crampton. At 16:08, Oilers forward Bates Battaglia tied the game unassisted after stealing the puck from Simon Mangos.
The Mudbugs owned the middle frame of the contest, netting two goals in the second period from Bossier Shreveport captain Brett Smith and Mudbugs leading scorer David Rutherford. Their goals gave the Bugs a formidable 4-1 edge at the second break.
A late rally had the Oilers going as Evan Kotsopoulos and Mike Beausoleil made it a 4-3 hockey game, and lifted the spirits of the fans back home but a goal by Bossier forward gave the Mudbugs what would be their final goal. Chad Costello got his first and what would be his final goal of the 2010-11 CHL season with a little over four minutes remaining, but it would not be enough as the deafening cheer of 2,318 fans in the CenturyTel Center roared their delight that the Mudbugs had prevailed at the final horn.
Of the 30 shots they faced in the game, starting goalie Ian Keserich would save 15 and relief goalie Trevor Cann would turn aside 10. Across the rink John DeCaro would make 21-of-25 saves. Both teams went 1-for-5 on the power play.
The Mudbugs move on to face the Allen Americans in the Berry Conference Championships that will begin sometime next week. Tulsa moves to the off-season with eyes on October where it will all begin once again. Season tickets are now being sold for the 2011-12 season and a schedule is expected sometime in August or September.
Photo by Kevin Pyle.