TULSA, OK—The Tulsa Oilers took the ice in front of a sparse Tuesday night crowd in the BOK Center to face the Rapid City Rush. The Oilers were hoping to make it two wins in a row after a 3-1 decision over the Wichita Thunder last Saturday. The game was a homecoming to one member of the Rush, as Brendan Hodge returned to the arena he called home last season.
Overall the two teams are on opposite sides of the Northern Conference, with Tulsa tied for 4th place at 2-1-0 and Rapid City tied for first at 3-1-0. The Oilers made a change over the 4 day break since their last game, waiving Alec Kirschner in favor of left winger Dan Riedel. Riedel played last season in Dayton and Las vegas of the ECHL, and played for Oilers coach Bruce Ramsay two seasons ago in Muskegon scoring 29 goals for the Lumberjacks.
The Oilers got on the board first when Mike Beausoleil scored at 4:07 of the first assisted by T. J. Caig and Rob Hisey. Tulsa then found the elusive power play goal after 17 tries as T. J. Caig found paydirt behind Rapid City goalie Danny Battochio at 13:04 assisted by Oilers captian and player assistant Tyler Butler and Rob Hisey. Butler fired the puck in from just inside the Rush blue line and Caig tipped it home. The back-and forth, end-to end play continued until the period ended with the Oilers up 2-0.
The real goal eruption took place in the 2nd period, The Oilers and the Rush combined for 6 goals as some of the best hockey ever played in the BOK Center took place. Opening the scoring in the period were the Oilers as their newest member Dan Riedel scored his first Tulsa goal at 6:21 of the middle frame, and it was quickly answered by Rapid City at 6:32 when Brendan Cook put the Rush on the board with Brendan Hodge assisting. Just two minutes later the Rush struck again, when Lee Reaney scored and Oilers goalie Kevin Armstrong at 8:34 with Rich Hansen helping.
The Oilers answered with what could arguably be the two prettiest goals is the brief history of the incredible BOK Center, as Mike Beausoleil took an excellent lead pass from Rob Hisey and skated 120 feet and slammed home a shorthanded breakaway goal at 10:29 of the second. Then, after a quick tally by the Rush’s Colt King at 12:19, Oiler Rob Hisey skated in front of Rush goalie Battochio, passed the puck between his own legs, took the rebound off his skate and backhanded the puck in. Colt King the scored for rapid City, ending the period with the Oilers up 5-4.
One thing that was very noticeable about about the Tulsa team was how they refused to quit when the Rush would score on them. That has been a real problem in recent hyears but there seems to be no sign of that in the Ramsay-era Tulsa Oilers. The Oilers and Rush played a tense attacking game in the final period, with several good scoring chances occurring for both teams. With Rush goalie Battochio on the bench the Rapid City team attempted to even the score in the final minute, but it wasn’t enough and the game ended with Tulsa on the heavy end of the board at 5-4. The Oilers move to 3-1-0 and are on something else they aren’t used to: a winning streak.
The Oilers travel to Mississippi to face the Riverkings in a rematch of opening night on Friday, October 30th, and return to face the Allen Americans for the first time ever on November 3rd in the BOK Center for another Tuesday night game.
Photos: Kevin Pyle