TULSA, OK– The long rivalry between the Tulsa Oilers and Wichita Thunder dates back to the rebirth of the CHL in 1992-93, and to many fans of both teams it is one of the games they recommend for their friends who have never witnessed a hockey game before. When it comes to tight scoring and hard hitting physical play, their games rarely disappoint.
So came the Thunder into the friendly confines of the BOK Center for the 12th meeting between the Oilers and the Thunder this season, and the Oilers coming into the game hold a 7-3-1 advantage in the BOK Center this season, and prior to handing the Thu8nder a 5-3 loss at home in the InTrust Bank Arena last night, the Thunder had come away with a 3-2 overtime victory on the BOK ice on March 8th, the night the Oilers managed to clinch a berth in the 2011 CHL playoffs with the point they garnered from the overtime loss.
The Thunder’s Chris Greene opened the scoring for the Thunder at 11:06 of the first period on an unassisted goal on a breakaway, tucking the puck behind Oilers goalie Ian Keserich. The second period was all Tulsa for the most part, with Jack Combs scoring a pair of goals, and sandwiched in between those two goals was a marker by one of the Oilers more recent acquisitions, Luke Lucyk. Andrew Martens would narrow the game to 3-2 with just 28 seconds remaining in the second period.
Games between Tulsa and Wichita have historically been very physical. Tonight’s game had that element but in a muted fashion, because both teams were in essence resting their players for their respective playoff runs. One fracas erupted after the Oilers went up 2-1 in the second period when former Tulsa Oiler Aaron Davis and Oilers defenseman Gary Steffes came together . Another former Oiler, goalie Marty Magers left his net to take on Tulsa’s Tom Dignard on a breakaway and sent him sprawling to the ice in the first period. Both incidents drew penalties but by and large the physical aspect what subdued.
The third period saw the Oilers pull ahead on Jack Combs third goal, scored on the power play with Oilers scoring leader Chad Costello assisting, closing out his hat trick. All-in-all the game, which was seem by 8,523 fans in the amazing BOK Center, was one of the best offensive and defensive efforts from the Oilers this season. The team held all three stars of the game, Ian Keserich for 37 saves on 39 shots, Costello for two assists and Jack Combs grabbed the games first star for the hat trick.
Tulsa will finish the regular season at 4:05pm on Sunday afternoon with a game against the Allen Americans, who recently locked up the CHL regular season title. Sunday’s game will be preceded by a benefit game between combined teams of police officers and firefighters from Tulsa and Oklahoma City at 1pm. Proceeds from the game will benefit the Autism Center of Tulsa.
Photo by Kevin Pyle.