TOLEDO, OH — First, the bad news: the Tulsa Oilers losing streak now stands at six with two one-goal losses to the Toledo Walleye on Saturday and Sunday night.
Now, the good news: the loss on Sunday wasn’t total as the Oilers brought home a point thanks to the overtime solution. Granted, it’s not anything in the grand scheme of things but both games with the Walleye proved what the team is capable of with the right mindset.
It might be a case of “too little, too late” as the regular season heads down the stretch.
On Saturday, the Oilers played their first game ever against the Walleye on Saturday night in a game that featured what once were the two premier teams in the ECHL. That was in the Fall of 2016. In the near-spring of 2017, that situation has dramatically changed as one team has all but slid off ECHL playoff mountain, while the other has clinched their place at the big dance.
It looked promising early on for Tulsa when Shawn Bates ended a scoreless tie when he blocked a shot which led to a long breakaway on Toledo goaltender Cal Heeter. Bates buried the wrist shot over Heeter’s blocker to give Tulsa a 1-0 lead after one. The Walleye held a 16-13 shots advantage in the period, but Oilers goalie P.J. Musico stopped all 16.
What followed were three goals in the second period from Toledo. First, Shane Berschbach tied the game at 1-1 just 1:17 into the period on a 5-on-3 man-advantage. Tyson Spink buried a one-timer 26 seconds later to give the Walleye a 2-1 lead. Then Dane Walters added the third power play goal to complete the early onslaught.
The Oilers jumped back on the scoreboard of the Huntington Center in the third period thanks to Alexandre Ranger. Ranger cut Tulsa’s deficit to one with his first goal as an Oiler at 9:03 of the period, but the Walleye added an insurance goal late in the frame when J.P. LaFontaine tapped in a wraparound pass from Simon Denis to make it 4-2 at the second break.
Dylan Hubbs knocked in his third goal of the season for the Oilers, but the Walleye contained the attempted rally and held on to preserve a 4-3 victory.
As mentioned previously the Oilers also lost on Sunday but managed to pull a point away thanks to the happenstance of an overtime loss.
The game opened with 20 minutes of scoreless hockey with Tulsa outshooting Toledo 12-6 in the period. Landon Oslanski ended P.J. Musico’s shutout bid when he zipped a shot in from the left side point to give the Walleye their first goal of the contest 30 seconds into the middle period. The Walleye held the shutout through the talents of goalie Jake Paterson for nearly 40 minutes thereafter.
Oilers defenseman Dennis Brown ended Paterson’s bid for a blank when he blasted a shot past Paterson 4:27 into the third period to tie the game at 1-1, but Zach Nastasiuk answered 1:20 later to put Toledo back in front. Ranger found the net for the Oilers with 4:45 remaining in regulation as the game reached overtime.
Tylor Spink gave the Walleye the win on the power play when he scooped up a loose puck on a rebound and fired it in past Musico to give Toledo the win.
The overtime point gives Tulsa 59 points with seven games remaining in the 2016-17 regular season. The team the Oilers are chasing, Kalamazoo, gained a victory and now hold an 11-point lead over Tulsa with one game in hand. The next game for Tulsa is next Friday when they travel to Allen for a two-game set with the Americans next Friday night.