Combs scores 40th goal; Playoff schedule set.
TULSA, OK– It wasn’t exactly the way the Oilers wanted to end the regular season, but as it is not the VERY end of the regular season, losing by one point to the CHL league chances wasn’t so bad.
The Allen Americans battled back from a 2-0 deficit to tie and then defeat the Tulsa Oilers 5-4 with just 1:28 remaining in the overtime session. Nino Mustelli slipped the puck under Oilers goalie Ian Keserich to end the game, stunning a BOK Center crowd of 5,066 that expected the Oilers to defeat the Americans for the first time this season on the BOK Center ice.
Still, it wasn’t all bad considering that in taking the Americans to the extra frame the point they garnered pushed them over the top to secure a third place finish in the Berry Conference and decide a first round opponent.
Had the Oilers lost outright Sunday evening they would have finished in 4th place and would have had to take on the Odessa Jackalopes in the first round, but the 3rd place finish now sets Tulsa’s first round opponent to be the Mississippi Riverkings. Head to head the Oilers have a better record against the Kings, going 4-2 against them this season.
Gary Steffes, Evan Kotsopoulos, Sean Erickson and Jack Combs all scored goals, with Combs goal making him the first 40-goal scorer since Todd Marcellus did it in the 2002-03 season. Before that, two players crossed the 40 goal mark during the 98-99 season when Jeff Antonovich score 40 goals and Troy Caley scored 41.
Tulsa finishes the regular season with a 35-25-6 record with 76 points, just one point behind the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs who finished second with 77 points. In the new-format CHL playoffs, the first place Americans will play the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees in the first round, Bossier will face Arizona and Texas will take on Odessa alongside the Oilers and Riverkings in the best-of-five first round.
Schedule: Game one: Thursday March 31 at Tulsa 7:05 p.m.
Game two: Friday April 1 at Tulsa 7:35 p.m.
Game three: Sunday April 3 at Mississippi 5:05 p.m.
Game four: Tuesday April 5 at Mississippi 7:05 p.m.*
Game five: Saturday April 9 at Tulsa 7:35 p.m.*
*if necessary all times Central
An interesting fact about the forthcoming playoff series is that though the Oilers and Riverkings are two of the original six franchises when the CHL resumed in 1992 (Mississippi was then known as the Memphis Riverkings) this is the first time the two teams have met in the playoffs.
Tickets for all Oiler playoff games are available at the BOK Box Office, Tickets.com, Tulsa area Reasor’s stores, and by calling 1-866-7BOK-CTR (866-725-5287). More information is available by calling the Oilers office at 918- 632-PUCK (7825).
Photo by Kevin Pyle.