PRESCOTT VALLEY, AZ—Oilers forward Ben Gordon is becoming the superhero of the Tulsa Oilers this season. The 29-year old Minnesota native is the Oilers team leader in goals, assists and points and he has registered a point or more in four of the last five games for the Oilers, including breakout nights against Rapid City and on Tuesday night against the Arizona Sundogs.
Gordon scored a hat trick and added two assists in the game against the Sundogs beginning at the eleven minute mark of the first period. Gordon opened the scoring by cashing in on a defensive zone turnover by Sundogs’ blue-liner Alex Velischek. As Velischek moved up the ice, the puck stayed behind and after scooping up the loose disc, Gordon blasted a shot past Andrew Engelage and inside the far post to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
In the final seconds of the period with his team on the penalty kill, Gordon showed tremendous patience by dragging the puck across the Arizona zone and waiting for Engelage to go down. Once the Sundogs netminder had committed, Gordon roofed a wrist shot with only 14 seconds remaining in the frame to make it 2-0 Tulsa. Gordon’s second of the game was the Oilers sixth shorthanded goal of the season.
With a shade under four minutes elapsed in the second period Gordon completed the hat trick by snapping home a feed from Adam Pleskach below the Sundogs goal line. After that goal and two close calls that rang off the Arizona crossbar Engelage was pulled in favor of relief goalie Chris Rawlings who would ride out the remainder of the game. Just moments after taking over, Rawlings was foiled by a one-timer from Pleskach off a gorgeous circle-to-circle pass from Gordon. The Oilers held a 4-0 edge until 16:48 when Bryan Cameron put the Sundogs on the board by raising a wrist shot over the shoulder of Shane Madolora.
Gordon earned his fifth point of the night when Ryan Menei jammed home a shot that appeared to trickle through Rawlings. The ninth goal of the year by Menei pushed the Oilers advantage to 5-1. Sebastian Geoffrion and Matt McCready went on to tally for the Sundogs but the comeback effort was stymied by Madolora who made several spectacular stops in the final minutes to earn his fifth straight win.
The win give Tulsa its fourth win in five games over Arizona, and pushed their overall record to 25-23-3 with 53 points, which is good enough…at least for the moment…places the Oilers in a tie with the Brampton Beast for seventh place. As for Gordon, the 29-year old center has put up nine goals and six assists in his last five games. With 68 points on the season, Gordon has taken over the team scoring lead and ranks third in the CHL scoring race. The sixth-year pro has posted four points or more in three of his last five contests.
Tulsa and Arizona will meet again on the Sundogs home ice for the final time this season, barring a meeting in the post-season, on Wednesday night.