RAPID CITY, SD—The Tulsa Oilers completed a mid-season swing in Rapid City and came away with three out of four possible standings points. First, Tulsa falls in a shootout on Friday.
It was one of the lower scoring affairs this season for the Oilers, but it took the entire game, overtime and the shootout to decide Friday night’s contest against the Rapid City Rush on Friday night as the Rush topped Tulsa 2-1. The only goal scorers in regulation were Tulsa’s Tommy Mele (9:32 1st, Lachance), and Rapid City’s Jesse Schultz (3:29 3rd, Ferriero, Huff).
The Oilers held the Rush through a frenetic overtime period, peppering Rapid City goalie John Griggs who was a flurry of arms, legs, sticks and pads to preserve the game through to the shootout round, where Adam Pleskach was the only goal scorer for Tulsa while Patrick Cullen and Daniel Barczuk managed to beat Tulsa goalie Kevin Carr to give the Rush the win.
Losing in the shootout gave Tulsa a critical standings point as the Oilers suffered their fourth OTL/SOL on the season thus far. Rapid City earned just its third win of the season when trailing after two periods and the Oilers were able to earn points in consecutive road games for the first time since mid-November.
Oilers power play shines in Saturday victory.
One of the more quirky things about the hastily built schedule for the CHL teams when they departed the league for the ECHL was the fact that it seems teams are playing each other an excessive amount of times. In December it was Allen and in the early part of January it has been Rapid City for the Tulsa Oilers. Since the middle of December it seemed that Tulsa has only played the Americans and the Rush.
So for the fifth straight time, the Oilers and Rush faced off on Saturday evening and it quickly became a special teams battle as both teams relied heavily on their respective power play and penalty kill units as the game progressed. Jon Booras struck first for the Oilers at 4:24 pof the first period when, on a power play he deflected a Dave Pszenyczny blast past Rapid City goalie John Griggs to give an early lead to Tulsa for the third straight game.
TJ Caig corralled a tape to tape pass from Ricards Birzinsh and punched it home past Griggs at to put the Oilers up 2-0 with just over nine minutes elapsed in the opening period. Rush rookie Cody Ferriero put home side on board with a power play goal at 15:07 at the Oilers carried a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.
Tulsa scored its third power play tally with just under a minute gone in the second period when Booras was able to re-direct a shot past Griggs to restore the Oilers two-goal lead. Rapid City wasted no time in cutting the lead back to a single goal thanks to newly acquired forward, Patrick Cullen. In just his second game in a Rush sweater, Cullen drove toward the Tulsa net and elevated a backhand over Kevin Carr at the 2:34 mark of the second period. Jesse Schultz brought the two clubs even at 4:13, but that would be as close as the Rush would get, as the rest of the game…nearly a period and a half…was all Tulsa.
Adam Pleskach pulled the Oilers ahead at 14:53 of the middle frame and Matt Larks finished the game off with an empty net goal in the game’s 59th minute to seal the win for Tulsa.
The Oilers have earned points in three consecutive games for the first time since the end of November and moved into a tie with the Wichita Thunder for second place in the Central Division. Tulsa ended the contest 3-for-6 on the power play while Rapid City went 1-fo-8 on the man-advantage. Booras, Caig, and Drew Fisher each finished with a pair of points for the Oilers who improved to 4-1-1 in the month of January.
From here the Oilers depart the frigid tundra for the sunny beaches of Florida for their only games outside of the ECHL Central when the face the Florida Everblades twice and the Orlando Solar Bears once in a swing through the Sunshine State that will include defenseman Scott Macauley appearing and representing Tulsa in the ECHL All-Star Classic on January 21st.
The Oilers return home on January 29th when they face the Brampton Beast in the BOK Center at 7:05pm.