TULSA, OK—Tuesday nights’ Tulsa Oilers hockey game was surprising on many levels.
Going in, the Oilers fans were all gritting their teeth considering that their team was set to face Missouri, the hottest team in the ECHL with a depleted roster, thanks in part to the ECHL giving three players a combined twelve games off resulting from a brawl in Rapid City last weekend, one of whom was goalie Kevin Carr.
The Oilers history with the Mavericks has not been a bell ringer. They have won against them twice this season so far, which is better than they did against them all season in 2014-15. That said the overall record against the pride of Independence, Missouri had even the most faithful in the BOK Center cringing for a decisive defeat by the end of the game.
That speculation, as it turned out, split from reality in a big way.
Based on the suspension, Oilers fans were going to get to see Carr’s backup Matt Grogan get his first start in the Tulsa net. Brought in to serve as Carr’s backup after the departure of Jussi Olkinuora to Manitoba in November, he had been riding the pine since he arrived as Carr made 16 straight starts in front of the Oilers cage. It would turn out to be a baptism of fire as the game went forward.
The Mavericks seized control of the game in the first period, scoring two goals. Missouri’s Kane Lafranchise slapped one in from the point for the first goal of the night. The 4:28 mark saw another Mav’s goal from the right circle, over Grogan’s glove by Sebastien Sylvestre and by the end of the first 20 the Oilers were staring uphill at a two-goal deficit.
In the middle period the Oilers Adam Pleskach ruined Maverick goalie Josh Robinson’s shutout bid when he deflected a shot from Connor Kucera past him at the 6:56 mark. Phil Brewer stuffed home a rebound to pull the Oilers even with the Mavericks and move into the game’s second intermission with the score tied 2-2.
Both teams added goals in the final period. The first coming from Jesse Root, who scored on a breakaway at 12:37 of the third. Then with a little over two minutes left Pleskach got his second goal of the night at 17:57. The third period would end with the score tied 3-3 headed into a three-on-three extra period.
The extra five minutes proved scoreless and gave way to a shootout. In the end Grogan would give up a goal to Mavericks forward Andrew Courtney and Robinson managed to stop all three shooters. The Mavs extended their win streak in the process to nine straight while the Oilers dropped their second in a row with the upside being that a shootout loss garners a standings point as a consolation prize.
Matt Grogan made 22 saves in his Oilers debut and will face the Wichita Thunder in a home and home series this weekend, starting at the InTrust Bank Arena in Wichita tonight at 7pm. The rubber match will be on Saturday night when the Oilers return home to take on Wichita at 7:05pm in the BOK Center.