TULSA, OK — The Tulsa Oilers gained some crucial points this week handing out losses to the Rapid City Rush and the Wichita Thunder, allowing them to gain some crucial points and improve themselves in the ECHL Mountain Division.
In the games, two rookies shined for the club. Goaltender Devin Williams notched his second shutout of his rookie year in a 3-0 victory over the Rush on Tuesday night, and Charlie Sampair turned in his first professional hat trick in a 6-3 decision against the Thunder on Wednesday.
Williams turned aside 30 Rapid City shots on Tuesday night, and Ryan Tesink, Joey Sides, and Sampair dented the twine to give the Oilers a much-needed victory.
The breakout game for the Oilers, however, was on the following night against Wichita.
The opening period saw the Thunder use the Tulsa net as a shooting gallery, with 15 shots peppering Williams. Despite that, the Oilers escaped the period with a 1-0 lead off of a goal from Dan DeSalvo, who was loaned back to the Oilers from Hartford (AHL) earlier this week. The Thunder tied the game off of a Kyle Platzer tally early on in the second frame, but that was answered when Dylan Hubbs deflected a shot from Tommy Vannelli past Wichita netminder Shane Starrett 33 seconds later to put the Oilers back ahead. DeSalvo picked off a Wichita clearing attempt and sniped his second goal of the night in from the left circle again to make it 3-1, and Sampair tallied his first of the night to extend the lead to 4-1 before the end of the frame.
The Thunder climbed back to within one, thanks to third period tallies from Nick Latta and Mark MacMillan, but Sampair buried his second of the game with 3:38 left, thanks to the third assist from Adam Pleskach. The second-year forward out of White Bear Lake, MN completed his first hat trick and four-point game (3g, 1a) with an empty-net goal with 17 seconds to play. The win elevated Tulsa to two games above .500 at 20-18-3-5, surging past the Allen Americans for the fourth and final playoff spot in the ECHL Mountain Division.
Two weeks ago the Oilers were uncertain as to how things would play out as the season starts to turn the corner, now they have confidence. It’s something Oilers head coach Rob Murray has been wanting to see from his club for some time.
“I think they are,” Murray said. “We are having some success right now. We have found a certain confidence the guys are building on. You are getting individuals playing excellent games. Everyone has to make a different on any given night.”
Sampair was the hero on Wednesday night, and his hat trick gives him 20 goals on the season thus far. He commented on how the game played out on Wednesday night.
“The game might have been slipping away from us a little toward the end, but we were able to get a couple more goals and finish it out,” Sampair said. “I think we are 5-1 in the last six games and are starting to get it together. We are moving in the right direction. We are going to try and keep playing the way we are.”
The Oilers look to build on these two wins when they take on Wichita tonight at INTRUST Bank Arena and the Allen Americans Saturday night at the Allen Event Center.