WICHITA, KS.— In 22 years, the Tulsa Oilers (28-23-3) have squared off with the Wichita Thunder 245 times. Some of the games the two teams have played in the Central Hockey League’s oldest standing rivalry are legendary in the annals of league history. The Oilers and Thunder are all that remains of the ORIGINAL six teams in the Central Hockey League that was formed by Ray Miron in 1992.
There are players in both organizations, (and in the front offices), who were in grade school back when the rivalry began, along with fans in both cities.
Tulsa holds the advantage in their all-time record with the Thunder, with 118 victories in 22 years, with an impressive 65 wins at home over the Thunder. This season the Oilers hold a 5-2-1 record over Wichita going into Friday’s contest with in the InTrust Bank Arena which pitted seventh place against ninth place in the Central Hockey League.
The Oilers got on the board first at 16:31 of the first period when Ryan Menei was awarded a penalty shot and converted on it and the visitors carried a 1-0 lead into the first intermission. The Oilers peppered Thunder goalie David Nelson with 15 shots compared to only four shots thrown at Tulsa goalie Shane Madalora.
The Oilers got their second mark of the game at 4:49 of the second period on a goal that was disputed as to who put the puck into the net. Oilers broadcaster Rob Loeber gave credit to Oilers forward (and reigning CHL Player of the Week), Ben Gordon and that’s how the goal was originally credited. Then, in the middle of the second the Wichita scorekeeper changed the goal credit to Ryan Menei. The Oilers locker room sent word to Loeber that Gordon had in fact scored the Oilers second tally of the game and it was later re-credited to him.
The Oilers and Thunder both killed off five-on-three power plays in rapid succession to begin the third period it was tight until just a shade under two minutes remaining when Michel Beausoleil scored an empty-net shorthanded mark at 17:58 of the third to seal the deal for the visitors.
Tulsa finishes the month of February with a 9-1-0 record and with two shutouts for goalie Shane Madolora in the last three games. With the goal tonight Ben Gordon has had a point in six straight games and eight in the last nine games. The Oilers improve to 28-23-3 overall with 59 standings points. As of right now they are in the seventh playoff spot as they enter the 2013-14 season’s final month.
From here the Oilers travel to St. Charles, Missouri to take on the Chill on Saturday night. Then a week off until they are back on the home ice at the BOK Center next weekend for a pair of games with the Rapid City Rush, the only times the Rush will visit Tulsa this season.