The first two weeks of the Central Hockey League’s 2013-14 season are in the books and the Oilers are winless through 4 games at 0-3-1, with a lone standing point. It’s the first time since the 2008-09 season that only saw Tulsa in the win column 18 times all season. The record so far has effectively killed whatever positive buzz the team generated over the summer and though it is still early the panic among some of the long-suffering and cynical Oilers fans is at the low sweat stage.
The Oilers lost both games in their home openers over the weekend by identical 3-2 scores against the defending champion Allen Americans. Both nights saw Tulsa sprint out to 2-0 leads, but that lead evaporated on each night with three unanswered special team’s goals by the Americans. In all Allen scored five power play and one shorthanded goal to spoil the home opening celebration weekend for Tulsa.
The poor performance in the power play and on the penalty is augmented by the fact that head coach Bruce Ramsay’s squad is the lack of scoring. In four games the Oilers have only lit the lamp 7 times, while their opponents have scored on them 13 times. The last time Tulsa was in a scoring drought like that was in the 2001-02 CHL season, where like this season they only had 7 goals total.
Despite the pair of home losses over the weekend the Oilers did have a good take at the box office over opening weekend, with 7,667 on opening night which was the largest opening night for any of the teams in the Central Hockey League this season. That mark topped the biggest crowd to attend an Oilers game last season (6,346) by 1,321 fans. On Sunday afternoon the Oilers drew 5,260.
Finally, the wheels of change are spinning in terms of team personnel. The Oilers were forced to skjate with only 8 forwards on Saturday night after last year’s leading scorer Ryan Menei went down with a knee injury after colliding with Americans forward Spencer Asuchak in the first period. He skated only one shift in the second period and rode the bench for the remainder of the contest.
While not listed as a replacement, on Sunday afternoon Oilers fans noticed that a new player was on the ice with the team battling the Americans and that was forward Charles Lachance, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound rookie forward University of Wisconsin-Stout product from Quebec City, PC. Lachance was waived after spending three games with Allen to begin the season where he notched two assists who started the weekend with Allen.
On October 29th the Oilers signed rookie Preston Shupe. Shupe, a 24-year old forward from Weyburn, Saskatchewan, spent the last four years at Division-I Canisius College in Buffalo, New York where he captained the Golden Griffins in each of his final two seasons. As a senior, Shupe scored 16 goals, including four game winners for 29 points. Shupe appeared in all 43 games of his senior campaign and was one of only nine players in the entire country to record three shorthanded goals during the 2012-13 season.
He also has junior hockey experience with the Weyburn Red Wings of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. He also has a signing with the Bakersfield Condors of the ECHL and attended the training camp of the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL.
“As a two-time captain, Preston showed outstanding leadership in college,” remarked Oilers Head Coach, Bruce Ramsay. “He’s put up impressive numbers at every level of hockey so far because he’s got a great combination of smarts and skills.”
Ramsay stated that Shupe will be in uniform on Wednesday night when the Oilers travel to Allen for their third straight game with the Americans on their home ice.
Looking ahead after the game in Allen, Texas on Wednesday night, the Oilers will once again be at home this coming weekend for a pair of games that includes their first meeting with the Missouri Mavericks on Friday night, then yet another go at the Allen Americans on Saturday night.
Tickets for both upcoming Oilers home games are available at the Oilers office located at 9128 E 46th Street,(on 46th Street between Mingo and Memorial), or at the BOK Center Box Office at 2nd and Denver in downtown Tulsa. Contact the Oilers at tulsaoilers.com or by calling 918-632-7825 (PUCK).