The Tulsa Oiler ended their first season in the ECHL with a 2-1 shootout win in Wichita and a 2-1 overtime loss in Quad City, and claimed the fourth and final playoff position in the ECHL’s Central Division, set to take on the Allen Americans beginning this Tuesday night at the Allen Event Center.
Both games were surprisingly tight, considering that the Wichita Thunder were playing for pride and the Quad City Mallards were playing for playoff seeding. Both games took more than the allotted 60 minutes to solve and were arguably two of the better games Tulsa played all season long.
In both games, rookie goaltender Kevin Carr stood tall in the Oilers net and he may be the key for Tulsa as they face the final champions of the former Central Hockey League starting this week.
In Wichita, the Oilers came into the game having already punched their ticket to go to the big ECHL dance, but with some question as to where they would wind up when the seedings were announced. So Tulsa needed to win and the Thunder were very eager to be the spoilers.
The game was scoreless until the 8:41 mark of the second period when Thunder captain Ian Lowe ripped a slap shot that zipped past Carr to give the home team the lead. Then less than three minutes later Adam Pleskach fed Dave Pszenyczny who lifted the puck over Wichita goaltender Tim Boron to knot the score at 1-1 and that is how regulation time would end.
During the shootout round, Tulsa defenseman Scott Macauley scored the only goal, and Carr denied all five Thunder shooters to give the Oilers their twelfth win over the Thunder this season, and Carr his 30th win of the season. In addition to that, Kevin Carr has been in goal for every Tulsa win over Wichita this season, at home or on the road.
A win in Wichita brought the Oilers playoff seeding down to a single game. If they won against Quad City in the final game of the season they would face Rapid City in the first round of the playoffs, and a loss would place them in fourth with the somewhat less-than-ideal scenario of facing the Allen Americans in the first round. So it would be a game with a little more drama than usual.
The Mallards took the lead in the dying minutes of the first period off a Kevin Baker wrist shot the sailed past Kevin Carr to give the home team the lead as the first 20 minutes concluded. Then with just three minutes elapsed off the clock in the second period Adam Pleskach scored his final regular season goal by banking the disc off Quad City goalie Parker Milner to tie the game. The remainder of the second period and all of the third became a goaltending clinic as both netminders closed down their cages to send the game into overtime.
Scott Macauley was called early on in the extra frame for hooking, and with just 2:20 off the clock, Matt Duffy gloved down an Oilers clearing attempt and ripped a heavy shot past Carr to give the Mallards an overtime win and the third playoff seed in the ECHL Central Division.
When it was all said and done, Tulsa posted a 4-2-2 mark in the eight-game season series against Quad City and earned points in each of its five visits to the iWireless Center (3-0-2).
The Oilers finished the 2014-15 regular season, their first in the ECHL, with a record of 37-29-3-3, the highest win-total of Bruce Ramsay’s tenure as head coach.
On Sunday the playoff dates were announced and the Oilers and the Allen Americans will start the 2015 ECHL Playoffs on the road in Texas with the first two games taking place in Allen this Tuesday and Wednesday night. Oilers fans will be able to listen to the games online at tulsaoilers.com with Rob Loeber providing the play-by-play call. Games three and four will be in the BOK Center at 7:30pm on April 17th and 18th, which is this coming Friday and Saturday night.
The remaining three games of the series are considered “if necessary” and they will alternate between Tulsa and Allen with the Americans hosting games 5 and 7.