TULSA, OK—The Tulsa Oilers squared off against the Mississippi Riverkings for the 4th time this season attempting to attain something that Oilers have not seen in at least 7 years…first place in the conference. Tonight’s game is the 4th in a series of 11 games between two charter teams of the reborn CHL. The Oilers have played the Riverkings three times already and they will play them more times by season’s end than any other team in the league. The scenario was simple…a win tonight over the conference leading Riverkings combined with a loss by the second place Colorado Eagles could vault the Oilers into a tie with Mississippi for first place.
The last time the two teams met was last Saturday night with Tulsa mounting their now trademark come-from-behind efforts to edge the Kings 6-5 in Mississippi, giving the Oilers a 2-1 advantage in the series so far. In their last game the Riverkings won 4-1 over the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs in DeSoto, while Tulsa used a 4 goal third period last night to top the Rapid City Rush 5-2 at the amazing BOK Center.
The Oilers got on the board at 7:55 of the first on a power-play goal by T.J. Caig, who swatted the puck past Mississippi goalie Ray Jean off a pass from Rob Hisey and a second assist by Troy Riddle. The goal put the Oilers at 7-for-19 this season against the Riverkings and it gave Troy Riddle his 3rd point in as many games. The goal extended a streak by the Caig-Hisey powerhouse duo, who have scored a point in each of the last eight games. Not to be left out is Troy Riddle, the brother of Oilers left winger Jake Riddle, who has scored a point in each of the three games he’s played in since he joined the team.
Tulsa lit the lamp again at 3:24 of the 2nd as this time Rob Hisey scored, assisted by T.J. Caig and a second straight helper by Troy Riddle. The goal was Hisey’s sixth marker against the Riverkings, a streak that began in grand fashion with a hat trick on the team’s opening night. The game featured a lot of fast, end-to-end action reminiscent of play you would see in the NHL. A solid effort was also shown by Tulsa’s defense, with defensemen and forwards clearing pucks and using their bodies to block shots.
Troy Riddle would get a goal of his own at 1:47 of the 3rd period on a nice rush at Riverkings goalie Ray Jean with Tyler Butler and Dan Riedel assisting. Then, eleven minutes into the 3rd a fight broke out after a save by Oilers goalie Kevin Armstrong was run into by a Riverkings player and Tyler Butler and former Oiler Adam Smyth hooked up. Shortly after that, at the 12:39 of the period Mississippi forward Bobby Chaumont blasted a shot in from the blue line and past Oilers goalie Kevin Armstrong to end the Oilers shutout bid.
It wasn’t long before Tulsa would respond at the 14:14 mark T.J. Caig would get his second goal of the night, batting in a pass from Aaron Davis on an odd man rush. That would be enough to best the Riverkings, and despite a few acts of frustration on the part of the Riverkings in picking a couple of fights in the dying minutes of the game the Oilers prevailed to win 4-1. The three stars of the game tonight were TJ Caig (2g 1a), Troy Riddle (1g, 2a), and Rob Hisey (1 g, 1 a).
The next test for the Tulsa squad is the Wichita Thunder, who tonight lost to the Missouri Mavericks 4-2, on Tuesday night. It’s $2 Tuesday, when the Oilers offer two dollar beer and soda specials. Tickets are available at the BOK Center box office, tulsaoilers.com and all Reasors Stores.
Photos: Kevin Pyle
GAME LENGTH: 2:24
1ST STAR: Caig, TJ (TUL)
2ND STAR: Riddle, Troy (TUL)
3RD STAR: Hisey, Rob (TUL)