TULSA, OK—The Tulsa Oilers came into the amazing BOK Center against Amarillo Friday night desiring one thing: a win. It doesn’t need to be a pretty win, and it doesn’t need to be a win for the ages, it just needs to be a win. The Oilers haven’t won a game since the fight filled 6-2 schooling delivered to the Texas Brahmas on November 27th. Seven games have gone by with the Tulsa squad empty-handed.
After a week that saw a flurry of trade activity that resulted in the departure of defenseman Tom Maldonado to Missouri for veteran defenseman and former Oklahoma City Blazer Tyler Fleck, and the signing of an agreement between Tulsa and the Lake Erie Monsters of the AHL that resulted in the assignment of goalie Trevor Cann to the Oilers on a 5-game tryout. Trevor Cann was a 2nd round NHL Entry Draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche in 2007 and in 10 games with the Monsters posted a 2-5-1 record. Cann would get the nod for the Oilers between the pipes tonight.
As bad as the losing streak has been the Oilers remain in third place at 12-10-1 with 25 points, a far cry from the first place showing they were enjoying a month ago. The third place position is a tenuous one, however as the Mississippi Riverkings are just one point behind Tulsa and could overtake them with a win at home over Rapid City tonight. It’s a definite cause for concern. The Amarillo Gorillas come into tonight’s game in a smaller hole than the Oilers, losing 5 straight. The Gorillas last played on Sunday, and in that game with the Odessa Jackalopes they lost 9-2.
Tulsa opened the scoring with a little less than 3 minutes to go in the first period when Tulsa’s leading scorer Rob Hisey found the back of the net with Mike Beausoleil and Sean Erickson assisting. That was followed at 18:37 by a goal by former Tulsa Oiler Joe Guenther, who put the Gorillas on the board with James Jernberg and David Nimmo helping. The Oilers would take the lead in the 2nd on a goal by Jimm Henkenmeyer with a little more than a minute remaining in the middle frame. The period featured a fight between another new Oilers acquisition, Thomas Harrison and Amarillo’s James Jernberg, and the altercation was nothing more than a prolonged bear hug with a few punches thrown.
The difference in tonight’s game was the Oilers attention to the game, something they have been lacking in the last few outings. The change in personnel has also resulted in a lot more speed in skating, and the checks were finished with ferocity. Tulsa players peppered the net with shots from all directions as well. Taken together it was a better performance tonight all around than in any of the previous games.
The third period featured no scoring, and a lot of back-and-forth action between the two teams. It was obvious that the Oilers had settled into a protective mode and though there were a lot of exciting chances for the Oilers to go up by two, 2-1 proved to be good enough to break the 7-game slide. The Oilers wound up out shooting the Gorillas 29-25, with Trevor Cann posting 28 saves. Tomorrow night the Oilers face the Rapid City Rush who lost to the Mississippi Riverkings tonight 4-3 and broke the Rush’s 10-game win streak.
Photos: Kevin Pyle
.GAME LENGTH: 2:21
REFEREE: Steve Cruickshank
1ST STAR: Cann, Trevor (TUL)
2ND STAR: Henkemeyer, Jim (TUL)
3RD STAR: Brown, Mike (AMA)
Tickets for tomorrow game and all Oilers home games can be purchased at the BOK Center box office, tulsaoilers.com and all Reasor’s locations