TULSA, OK — The Tulsa Oilers entertained the Missouri Mavericks on Sunday afternoon, and after the prescribed 60 minutes of play, the home team once again was light on the scoreboard and the visitors walked away with a 4-1 victory.
It was a familiar refrain on Sunday afternoon, the Oilers got behind early on in the game, and while they got close they never managed to catch up.
There was a reason for that, the injury bug has finally achieved critical mass on the Oilers roster. Two players are sidelined by injuries and it’s forcing the Tulsa game plan to take a new direction.
“It is a tough time of the year with injuries.” Tulsa head coach Jason Christie said. “We are asking guys to score goals that don’t really score goals. We just had two lines tonight. We were soft on the back end. There was no assertiveness on the defensive side. But the forwards battled.”
The Oilers once again out shot their opponent by nearly 20 shots (43-25), but could only penetrate the Mavericks goal once.
“They (Missouri) were blocking shots and getting in front of them.” Christie said.
Matt Robertson got the first goal for the visitors, tapping a rebound through Oilers goalie Colin Stevens at 7:16 of the first period. Then after the Oilers took two penalties in quick succession, the Mavericks added a goal on the resulting 5-on-3 power play, when Dane Fox found a loose puck low in the left circle and buried the shot past a sprawled out Colin Stevens 6:39 into the stanza. Williams stopped 13 more Oilers attempts to keep his shutout intact.
Kale Kessy deflected a shot from Eric Drapluk past Mavericks goalie Stephon Williams to make the game 2-1, but that would be the closest the team would get. The Oilers generated several scoring chances on a 5-on-3 power play opportunity towards the end of regulation, but could not find the equalizer. Robertson added a second goal late off of a faceoff win, and Kevin Tansey provided an empty-net tally to complete the scoring.
“The guys worked hard and had chances,” Oilers coach Jason Christie said. “They just could not bury it. We were in it until the last two minutes.”
For the eight-game, season-long home stand, the Oilers went 2-5-1 and out of a potential 16 standings points, they claimed only five. In addition, thanks to solid wins by the Kalamazoo Wings this weekend, the Oilers are now out of the top four in the ECHL Central Division for the first time this season and at least for now, out of the playoff picture with a month and change to go.
Christie hinted at forthcoming changes as the team heads out on a nine-game road trip.
“We have to make some changes,” Christie said. “It is that time and colleges are letting out. We have to find a way. We have to keep that right frame of mind.”
The next time the Oilers will skate on home ice is in 32 days, on March 31st when the Wichita Thunder comes to town for a 7:05 faceoff in the BOK Center.