TULSA, OK—It sounds like a broken record, but every win is critical at any point of the season and for a team on the bubble, like the Tulsa Oilers, every win is doubly important and a very urgent thing indeed.
In their decisive win over Mississippi on Wednesday night the Oilers sent a message to the rest of the league that they will not go quietly into the dark night of the off season. Tulsa played a complete game against the Riverkings on both the offensive and defensive side of the puck two nights ago, lifting the hopes of the fans in the amazing BOK Center for the Oilers to make the playoffs.
Tonights opponent is the red-hot Rapid City Rush, who have had the top spot in the CHL North for some time now and who enter the Oil Capitol riding a 6 game win streak. They sit in firm control of first place and have confirmed their spot in the 2010 CHL post season with a 39-11-5, 83 point record so far. They also possess one of the league’s top points men in Scott Wray, who has 70 points so far (26 goals, 44 assists) and former Tulsa Oiler Brendon Hodge who has some 21 goals and 32 assists for 53 points.
The Rush opened the scoring at 9:19 of the first period when Scoot Wray slipped the puck past a sprawling Marty Magers with Derek Campbell and Les Reaney assisting. Rapid City would go up 2-0 on a power play goal by Derek LeBlanc at 13:20 with Derek Campbell and Dave Grimson helping. For rthe majority of the first period the Oilers looked to be chasing instead of attacking and falling for a modified trap that had them all over the ice. The Rush also played a clutch and grab style of hockey that referee Dan Dreger refused to take note of and that all but eliminated the Oilers ability to get any kind of sustained attack going.
There was no scoring in the 2nd but it was a different story in the second period as it appeared that the Oilers began a more physical pursuit of the game, and the intensity of their game picked up considerably. Unfortunately, the continued ignorance of blatant penalties committed by the Rush and the fact that he played fast and loose with the rule book, the influence of the poor officiating by referee Dan Dreger resonated on the list of penalties that were obviously tipped heavily toward Tulsa’s side of the score sheet.
The third period went much like the first did, as any attacking presence the Oilers tried to establish was thwarted by Rapid City’s innate ability to shut off passing lanes and disrupt any attempt to set up plays in their zone. Give a lot of credit to Rush goalie Danny Battochio, who didn’t give up many rebounds that the Oilers could possibly convert into goals. In the end, the Oilers tried the combination of pulling goalie Marty Magers and a power play to try and get at least one goal, but it wasn’t meant to be as that plan backfired and the Rush got an empty net goal with 4 seconds left.
To add insult to injury, Missouri shellacked the Colorado Eagles 6-1 in Independence tonight, and Mississippi dropped one to the Allen Americans 5-2 in allen. This loss now places the Oilers three points out of the 5th and final playoff position with 7 games left to play. The Oilers return to the amazing BOK Center for the final regular season home game tomorrow night facing the newly hot Missouri Mavericks in what it sure to be a matchup that will bring fireworks aplenty. After that the Oilers will finish the regular season on the road, playing six more games.
Photos by: Kevin Pyle
Tickets for that game can be purchased at the BOK Center box office, tulsaoilers.com and at all Reasors locations. All the Oilers play by play action can be heard at edgetulsa.com hosted by Steve McCall.
SHOTS ON GOAL TOTAL
Rapid City 32
Rapid City 1 for 4 : Tulsa 0 for 4
Rapid City – Scott Wray (Derek Campbell, Les Reaney) 9:19
Rapid City – Derek LeBlanc (powerplay) (Derek Campbell, Dave Grimson) 13:20
Rapid City – Scott Wray (shorthanded) (emptynet) (unassisted) 19:56
Rapid City – Gio Flamminio – (Holding), 2 min, 5:06
Tulsa – Luke Stauffacher – (Holding), 2 min, 11:25
Tulsa – Jake Riddle – (Unsportsmanlike Conduct), 2 min, 6:16
Tulsa – Jim Henkemeyer – (Tripping), 2 min, 13:15
Rapid City – Derek Campbell – (Hooking), 2 min, 14:08
Tulsa – Dan Riedel – (Slashing), 2 min, 17:45
Rapid City – Derek LeBlanc – (Holding), 2 min, 10:08
Rapid City – Riley Weselowski – (Holding), 2 min, 19:03
Tulsa – Thomas Harrison – (Unsportsmanlike Conduct), 2 min, 19:56
GAME LENGTH: 2:41
REFEREE: Dan Dreger
LINES 1: Josh Montgomery
LINES 2: Benjamin Dupuis
1ST STAR: Battochio, Danny (RPD)
2ND STAR: Wray, Scott (RPD)
3RD STAR: Campbell, Derek (RPD)