The Tulsa Oilers are on the cusp of their first visit to the Central Hockey League post-season for the first time since 2011, and they are keeping the drama level a little higher than their fans would like it. At one point in the last month Tulsa was in the middle of the playoff hunt with a very nice cushion and the prospect of seeing a favorable seed.
After a string of losses since the beginning of March the cushion deflated and they are now just one point out of the last playoff position with only six games remaining in the regular season. The Oilers played three games this weekend against the Wichita Thunder, their oldest rival in the CHL, and as the headline suggests it was less than spectacular as they dropped two games to Wichita in their barn and squeaked to a shootout victory at home on Sunday afternoon.
Oilers fall in Wichita 4-1.
Following a pattern set last week against Rapid City, the Tulsa Oilers dug themselves a hole they could not get out of and dropped a 4-1 decision against the Wichita Thunder on Friday night in the InTrust Bank Arena.
The pattern being that the Oilers got down early in the first two periods and could not climb out of the hole they dug themselves. Two goals by the Thunder’s Matt Robinson, along with tallies from Erick Lizon and Matt Summers were enough to push Wichita past the Oilers for only the third time this season.
Ryan Menei posted the only Tulsa goal at the 3:47 mark of the final period, with Ben Gordon and Adam Pleskach assisting. Gordon’s assist was his 80th point this season.
Shane Madolora endured his third straight loss making 31 saves on 34 shots. David Brown made 22 saves on 23 shots. Neither team made good on any of their power play opportunites.
The third straight loss for Tulsa drops them to 29-26 and three on the season stalled out at 61 standings points and the next-to-last playoff position with eight games left in the season.
Wichita spoils Oilers comeback on Saturday.
There’s no nice way to put this: the Tulsa Oilers are in trouble.
Blair Macauley was the ONLY story for the Oilers on Saturday night as he scored his first hat trick as a professional, notching a goal in the first period and two in the middle period. Nathan Lutz tied the game in the tenth minute of the third period, but the only problem with that was the Oilers, in the preceding 50 minute, has spotted the home team four goals.
Former Oiler Tomas Klempa, Andrew Martens, Matt Summers and Matt Robinson steamrolled the Oilers in the opening period of the game on Saturday, and after Lutz knotted the score at four goals apiece in the third period RG Flath punched the puck past Oilers goalie Brad Fogal with a shade under three minutes to go to give the Thunder a 5-4 win at the horn.
The loss was the fourth consecutive loss for Tulsa dating back to the first of March.
Macauley a superhero for Tulsa in shootout.
Shootouts in hockey are either your best friend or your worst enemy. They allow teams to complete a miraculous comeback victory or suffer a crushing defeat by allowing the comeback win by the other team.
Since the calling card of the Tulsa Oilers recently has been to spot their opponents a number of goals and then attempt to claw their way back into a game, (most recently against Wichita), the shootout was their friend and it was a showcase for Oilers rookie Blair Macauley as his fifth-round goal was the game winner for the Oilers in front of 6,777 on Sunday afternoon in the BOK Center..
The first-year forward from Winnipeg, Manitoba scored a puck through the legs of Thunder goalie David Nelson to give the Oilers a 4-3 comeback victory. Macauley opened the scoring for the Oilers in the second period after the Thunder had amassed a 3-0 lead off goals by Jon Madden, Matt Summers and Jon Booras. Nathan Lutz brought the Oilers to within one goal at 9:46 of the third period, lobbing a pass from Ryan Menei over Nelson’s shoulder.
Michel Beausoliel tied the game with a shorthanded goal at 13:11. The regulation time gave way to a scoreless overtime period, and then the shootout.
With the shootout win the Oilers managed to halt the slide at four games and improved to a record of 7-4-1 this season against Wichita with one game remaining in the season series that will wrap up next Friday in the BOK Center. Tulsa crossed the 30-win mark and managed to stay in seventh place with a 30-27-3 record and 63 points with six games remaining in the regular season.