RAPID CITY, SD.—For those who follow Tulsa Oilers forward Ben Gordon, they know him by the handle of @flashgordo13. If they were following him on Wednesday night when he and his teammates handed the Rapid City Rush a 5-4 loss in the Rushmore Plaza Event Center, they would very likely add a (hashtag) #awesome, especially when they saw his performance in the first period.
The sixth-year pro scored four goals in the span of 4:29 and assisted on another as the Oilers surged to a 5-1 lead by the end of the game’s first 20 minutes. After Rush forward Jared Brown slipped a shot through the legs of Oilers goalie Shane Madolora to open the scoring at 11:32, Gordon tallied his first goal of the night on the power play by banking the puck off of Rush goalie Tim Boron to even the score at 1-1 at the 13:51 mark.
Just 69 seconds later, Gordon roofed a backhand over the glove of Boron to give Tulsa its first lead of the night. At 17:29, Gordon orchestrated a two-on-one rush and set up Kyle Bochek for his 12th goal of the season and the visitors enjoyed a 3-1 advantage. Only 29 seconds after his assist, Gordon completed his first period hat-trick by clanging a snap shot off the crossbar and into the net. Boron was lifted from the game after allowing four goals on 16 shots but Gordon still wasn’t finished.
Back on the power play a mere 22 seconds later, the Minnesota native one-timed a feed from Scott Macaulay past Keaton Hartigan to become just the second player in the CHL this season to record four goals in a single period. Tulsa rookie Adam Pleskach found the net four times in the second period on November 23 in Allen.
In the remaining 40 minutes the Rush roared back into contention, outshooting the Oilers 14-5 in the second period and registering goals from Scott Brannon and Konrad Reeder to cut the visitors lead to 5-3 going into the third. The Oilers locked down the blue line in the third period and Madolora made some outstanding saves to bolster the defensive effort. With Hartigan pulled from the Rapid City net, Reeder re-directed a Brett Kostolansky shot into the net with exactly one minute remaining in regulation, but on the strength of key face off wins by Bochek, the Oilers were able to hold off Rapid City’s final push and secure the win.
Gordon finished with his third five-point outing of the season and his third hat-trick in the last two months (23 games). Nathan Lutz chipped in three assists for the Oilers while Ryan Menei added a pair of helpers as the Oilers picked up two points for just the second time in their last ten road games. Shane Madolora made 31 saves while the combined efforts of Tim Boron and Keaton Hartigan turned aside 26 of 31 Tulsa rounds.
In their 47th game of the season, the Oilers earned their 22nd win and tied their win total from the entire 2012-13 campaign. Tulsa won its third straight contest and improved to 2-0-0 in Rapid City this season.
The two teams meet again at 8:05pm Tulsa time for the second game of the midweek set on Wednesday night.