TULSA, OK—With just 65 seconds remaining before the end of overtime Oilers forward T.J. Caig found himself in the clear in front of Wichita goalie Tim Boron’s net. The 33-year old forward from Kelowna, BC then buried the puck behind Boron to end the 251st meeting between Tulsa and Wichita, (and their first in the ECHL) with a 6-5 overtime victory in front of 7,744 in the BOK Center on Sunday night.
It was a true rollercoaster game for the Oilers, who saw a three-goal lead evaporate in the middle period when Wichita turned a 4-1 deficit into a 4-4 tie with three unanswered goals.
Adam Pleskach started off the game’s scoring for Tulsa, when his team was shorthanded he managed to force a turnover and corral a loose puck and skate in on Boron on a short breakaway, he then ripped a shot over the Wichita netminder’s left shoulder to give the home team a 1-0 advantage unassisted at 6:16 of the first period. Then at 12:09 on the power play Caig scored with a laser beam one-timer from the top of the face-off circle. Then Kevin Noble gave the Oilers a commanding 3-0 lead when a slap shot skipped by Boron with a little over five minutes remaining in the opening period. A prospective shutout from starting goalie Mike Zacharias was spoiled with Stephen Schultz burying a rebound with just 24 seconds left in the first period.
It would not be a rivalry game between the Oilers and Thunder without fisticuff, and Tulsa’s Ty Bilcke and Wichita’s Erick Lizon dropped the gloves at the 12:10 of the first. Then game’s only bout lasted for about two minutes before the linesmen stepped in and ended the scrap with both fighters standing.
The visitors came alive in the middle frame, after the Oilers Scott Macauley scored the home team’s fourth goal. Wichita punched in three unanswered goals within a span of three minutes, knotting the score at 4-4 and resulting in an early exit of Zacharias from the Oilers net in favor of Kevin Carr, who won the game in net for Tulsa in Allen of Friday night.
Adam Pleskach broke the tie at 10:10 of the third period but the lead lasted all of four minutes.
Kevin Carr got a piece of Jared Walker’s shot but not all of it, and the cored was tied again, this time at five and that’s how regulation time would end. Caig’s heroic end to the game 3:55 into the overtime period made the BOK Center’s rafters ring and just like that, the Oilers had the win, a 2-0-0 open to the 2104-15 ECHL season, and the end to a string of three opening night losses dating to 2011.
The Oilers swept the three stars of the game, with Caig earning the #1 star.
The team will travel to the InTrust Bank Arena on October 29th for a rematch with the Thunder before returning home to face the Missouri Mavericks next Friday night.