INDEPENDENCE, MO—Fresh of a trio of home losses, the Tulsa Oilers traveled to Independence Missouri on Tuesday night to take on the Missouri Mavericks for the first time since 2014 where the Mavericks proceeded to hand them a 7-3 loss in front of a boisterous home crowd of 5,800 in the Independence Events Center.
The Mavericks basically have ownership over the Oilers this year. They only have one win over Missouri this season, and the win was a decidedly bad one for Tulsa because for the first time since the beginning of 2015 they fell out of playoff contention, thanks to the combination of their loss and a Rapid City win over the Brampton Beast.
The Oilers scored only three times in a game dominated by an energized Maverick offense led by Andrew Courtney and Lindsay Sparks each contributing two goals with the others filled in by Ryley Grantham, Josh Brittain and Sebastien Thinel. The entire game was a bad one for Tulsa, with one of the poorer aspects of the game was the Oilers allowing the team with the worst power play percentage a pair of goals early on.
At 5:40 of the second period, Tulsa winger Matt Larke was finally able to squeeze a wrist shot through Clemente for his sixth goal of the season to cut the home teams edge to 2-1, but then the Oilers gave up three unanswered goals in the second to push the Mavs out in front 5-1. The Oilers scored their third 5-on-3 power play goal of the season when T.J. Caig finished off a nifty passing play to bring Tulsa back within three at 16:31 of the second period, but any hope of a rally by Tulsa was quickly crushed when Courtney, who had scored first in the game’s opening frame, rang a shot off the post and behind Tulsa goalie Brandon Anderson.
Kyle Bochek brought Tulsa back to within three goals when he ended a four-game point drought with his second goal of the season at 4:15 of the third but Tulsa was unable to continue to chip away at the deficit. The final goal of the game by Thinel sealed the deal for the Mavericks with around two and a half minutes to go gave the Mavericks their sixth win over the Oilers this season
Missouri went 2-for-5 on the power play and the Oilers have now surrendered multiple power play goals in three consecutive contests. Tulsa has dropped six of its last eight games, falling to 21-22-4 on the year with 46 points, just a point behind the Rapid City Rush for the fourth and final playoff spot in the ECHL Central Division. There is still a lot of hockey to be played, but if the season were to end now, the Oilers would be out of the playoffs for the first time since 2012. They need to tighten defensively, and close the opposition down on the power play fi they have any prayer of a decent playoff position at season’s end.
Tulsa will face the Quad City Mallards in a home-and-home series with the Oilers traveling to Moline, Illinois on Friday night and returning home on Saturday.