TULSA, OK– The Tulsa Oilers are cruising as Clarke’s first professional hat trick lifts Tulsa over the Allen Americans 5-3. Winners of four of their last five games, Bruce Ramsay’s young squad is holding firm in the top five of the Central Hockey League’s Berry Conference as 2012 and the CHL‘s second half of the season looms large.
Once a team that was speaking in terms of “malaise” and “mathematically eliminated” by the time the holiday season rolled around, it’s not without a sense of pride that Oiler fans can say that they have a good team poised to head down the stretch to the 2012 CHL Playoffs.
Tulsa currently sits in third place behind the Wichita Thunder and the Allen Americans at 15-9-2 with 32 points. That’s three points behind the Thunder who hold second place and the Americans, who sit at 37 points.
Significant here is that these three teams represent the best in the Central Hockey League at the moment: Allen, Wichita and the Oilers. On Tuesday night, the Americans made their way into the BOK Center for their third meeting with Tulsa this season. The Oilers hold a 2-0 lead in the season series, including a 3-2 shootout win over the Americans.
The Oilers are the winners of 4 of their last five, including a come from behind win over Wichita Christmas night.that featured a stellar game from Tulsa forward Ryan Raven who was instrumental in a four goal third period that lifted the Oilers to the win.
Allen would take a 1-0 lead at 14:06 of the first period as Jarret Lukin lifted the puck over a sprawled Ian Keserich unassisted. Prior to the goal Oilers forward Marty Standish appeared to be knocked to the corner by Lukin, but referee Tudor Floru did not call the tripping penalty.
Floru noticed a Gio Flamminio high stick at 16:34, and thought it severe enough to merit a 4:00 double minor penalty. That call resulted in a goal by Nick Layton, assisted by Jason Deitsch and Tyler Ludwig. The first period ended with the Americans on top 2-0.
The Oilers would get on the board just 20 seconds into the second period when Gary Steffes found twine behind Americans goalie Marco Cousineau unassisted. After a flurry of penalties to both teams, Allen scoring leader Bruce Graham exited the penalty box, skated in on Ian Keserich and scored the American’s second power play goal of the night at 6:54 assisted by Tyler Ludwig.
Not to be outdone, Tulsa’s leading scorer Dylan Clarke got a goal of his own at 8:25 assisted by Sean Erickson. That was it for goals, although in the dying minutes there was a flurry of activity in front of the Allen goal, several Oilers players raised their sticks in celebration of an apparent goal, but there was no signal from Floru and the goal judge did not turn his light on. The period ended with Allen on top 3-2.
The third period opened much like the second did with Gary Steffes solving Marco Cousineau with just seconds elapsed in the frame. This time, Steffes took two more seconds to score on the power play with the help of David Solway and Michel Beausoliel. Then, just 34 ticks later Dylan Clarks scored his second of the evening, on the same power play situation.
At the 10:59 mark of the third period, Dylan Clarke scored his third goal of the night, slipping the puck under the blocker of Marco Cousineau with Ryan Cramer helping him out. Clarke’s marker completed a hat trick and the Oilers third unanswered goal of the period. It was yet another example of the Oilers ability to respond to adversity.
At 17:12, Dylan Clarke was pulled down on a rush without any Americans defenders between himn and Allen goalie Marco Cousineau, a penalty shot was awarded toi Clarke, who had the chance to extend his scoring to four goals and increase the Oilers lead, but he lost an edge, fell down allowing Cousineau the easy save.
A last ditch attempt to gain the upper hand was attempted by Americans coach Dwight Mullins as he pulled his goalie for the final two minutes of the game but the effort failed. The horn on the BOK Center score clock sounded and the Oilers were 5-3 winners, once again coming from behind and in total domination of their opponent in the third period.
While Dylan Clarke was the true hero of the game his supporting cast deserved a nod for not folding under a one- and two- goal deficit. Goalie Ian Keserich truned aside 37-of40 shots while the Oilers peppered Marco Cousineau with 35 shots, 30 of which the American goalie handled.30.
The Americans went 2-for-5 on the power play and the Oilers went 1-for 8. the win gave the Oilers their fifth win in their last six games and lifted them into sole possession of third place in the CHL’s Berry Conference, just 3 points away from Allen and Wichita, who now sit tied for the #1 spot after the Wichita handled the Missouri Maverick 5-0 tonight at home.
The Oilers will hit the road to Rapid City, South Dakota for a weekend set with the Rush to close out 2011. The next hoem game for the Oilers will take place on Jaunary 14th when they host the Americans once again.
Tickets are available for all Oilers home games at the BOK Center box office or by calling 918 632 7825 (PUCK).