TULSA, OK—The Tulsa Oilers (17-16-3) hosted the Rapid City Rush for two games of a three game weekend set and came away with a win and a loss. Not bad, considering that the Rush absolutely humiliated the Oilers with a 5-3 come from behind win over the Oilers on Tuesday night. The first game on Saturday night was much better, so let’s start there.
Late game heroics save Oilers on Saturday.
On the one hand, the 3-1 win by the Tulsa Oilers over the Rapid City Rush could be considered revenge for the complete and total meltdown they suffered last Tuesday night when the three-goal lead they established early on evaporated with the Rush going on to win 5-3 in an epic collapse on Tulsa’s part.
On the other hand, despite getting that revenge and their own two goal win a few days later, it was a sloppy game in which the home team was very lucky to escape from.
The Rush took the lead at the 8:56 mark of the first period when Jean-Michel Rizk received a pass from Cody Ferreiro in front of Murdock and slipped the puck through the sprawling net minder for his third goal of the season. Literally nothing happened between the 8:56 mark of the first period and 13:06 into the third, when Tulsa center Jon Booras waltzed off the half-wall and stick-handled through traffic before snapping a shot off the post and into the net.
Booras leveled the game at 1-1 with his first goal since December 10.
After that, the Oilers assumed the lead with a fortuitous bounce off Rush defenseman, and former Oiler, Sean Erickson. Jeff Jubinville’s shot caromed off Erickson and past the pad of Rapid City goalie Raphael Girard at 15:30 of the final frame to give Tulsa a 2-1 edge. Jubinville then finished the game off with an empty net goal with just 38 seconds remaining the give the Oilers a win in regulation, their first since December 28th.
With Jubinville’s 10th and 11th goals he became the sixth Tulsa skater to rise into the double digit club in goals this season. The Oilers improve to 16-15-3 on the season thus far with 34 standing points.
The news of the day on Saturday, prior to the drop of the puck was the release of goalie Brady Hjelle and the signing of Kevin Murdock, who came to Tulsa by way of the Fayetteville FireAntz of the SPHL. The rookie goaltender turned aside an impressive 30 shots for his first ECHL win Saturday night, while Girard turned aside 33 of 35 shots. Neither team managed to do anything on the power play, with only six total minutes of penalty time served between the two clubs.
Rush takes sleepy Oilers 6-3.
Whatever feel good energy the Oilers generated on Saturday night did not carry over to Sunday afternoon, as a flat lifeless Tulsa squad played Rapid City for the third time in four games and fell 6-3.
A slap shot blast by Rush defenseman Riley Weselowski set up first goal of the contest at 11:02 of the opening period. Weselowski’s rocket bounced off Oilers goalie Kevin Murdock and J.P. Chabot swatted the rebound into the net for his eighth goal of the season and a 1-0 Rush lead. Tulsa fired just three shots on goal in the first frame, a new season low for shots in a single period. In the first minute of the second period, Tulsa winger Kyle O’Kane set up Jon Booras for a one-timer in the right face off circle and the Oilers center sent a shot past Danny Battochio to level the contest at 1-1.
That was followed by a two successive goals by the Rush, starting with a wrist shot by Cody Ferriero at 7:54 past Oilers goalie Kevin Murdock, followed up just a hair under a minute later by a goal by Daniel Tetrault. Trailing 4-1 early in the third after a goal by former Oiler Dylan Clarke, he Oilers jumped back into contention when Matt Larke got his stick on a Nathan Lutz blast at 9:57, and then the Oilers made a game of it when Jeff Jubinville, the first star of the night on Saturday, scored from on top of the Rush crease after Drew Fisher and Adam Pleskach were able to win puck battles along the back boards narrowing the Rapid City advantage to a single goal at 4-3.
That would be as close as the Oilers would get, however.
It was Ferriero who deflated the Tulsa momentum at 15:08 with his second strike of the night to put the Rush up 5-3. On a late Rapid City power play, Ferriero completed his hat-trick at 19:44 and registered his fourth point of the night. The first-year forward who began the season with Pensacola in the SPHL, was one of five Rush players to finish with multiple points.
A disturbing statistic for Tulsa was a very anorexic shot count. The club would only put 14 shots on Battochio’s net what the Rush peppered Murdock with 32 rounds. The stat is disturbing as the Oilers fired a season high 62 shots at Brampton on Friday night and could only crack into the double-digit shot count early on in the third period Sunday against Rapid City.
From here the Oilers begin a long road trip, visiting Rapid City before making their one and only trip outside of the ECHL Central Division for a swing through the Sunshine State, visiting the Florida Everblades twice and a single game against the Orlando Solar Bears. The next home game is on Thursday, January 29th against Brampton.
Through the next 67 days, Tulsa will only play 5 home games.