INDEPENDENCE, MO.—The Tulsa Oilers didn’t get off to a great start in the second half of the season on Friday night as they fell to the Missouri Mavericks 4-2 in an ugly, penalty-ridden contest.
The two clubs had not seen each other in action since December 6 and even with nearly two months elapsed from that game (a 2-1 loss for Tulsa), there was no love lost. A testy tone was set shortly after the opening faceoff as Tulsa captain Nathan Lutz leveled Mavericks winger Andrew Courtney.
Before the dust had settled around Courtney, Oilers defenseman Eric Tallent was trading punches with Mavs’ forward Ryley Grantham. The fighting majors were the first of 11 penalties called in the opening period.
Josh Brittain started the scoring for the Mavericks when he punched the puck through Oilers goalie Kevin Carr to give the home squad a 1-0 lead. The Oilers answered late in the second period when Tulsa’s ECHL All-Star representative rifled a shot that was deflected by Drew Fisher past Missouri goaltender Mike Clemente to knot the game at 1-1 with seven minutes to go in the second period. The Oilers’ momentum lasted only 30 seconds as the Mavs restored their lead on the 11th goal of the season from veteran winger Sebastien Thinel. In his first game as a Maverick, Geoff Walker dished to Thinel in the slot and the former Central Hockey League MVP snapped a shot past Carr for a 2-1 advantage.
With seven minutes to go in the third, Carr was able to make a breakaway save on Lindsay Sparks but was unable to deny the next attempt from Jack Downing. The Missouri forward had his first shot denied but shoveled home the rebound to give the home side its first two-goal cushion of the game.
Walker put the game out of reach with an empty net tally at 18:46 and a late strike from Kyle O’Kane proved too little, too late for the Oilers. A skirmish in the closing minute led to game misconducts for Tulsa’s Nathan Lutz and Tommy Mele as well as Grantham for Missouri.
The game ended with the two teams registering 90 minutes in penalties (46 minutes on 12 infractions for Tulsa, 44 minutes on 15 penalties for Missouri), and they were blanked on the man-advantage for the third straight game with no power play goals in five opportunities.
The loss drops the Oilers to 19-19-4 on the season with 42 points, tied for third place in the ECHL Central with the Wichita Thunder. The return home this Thursday night for the first of a two-game home set with the Brampton Beast. Thursday’s faceoff is set for 7:05pm in the BOK Center.