TULSA, OK—Even though the game was meaningless, it was a pretty good one all things considered. Three lead changes, a decent bit of fisticuffs and the home team surprisingly staying with a playoff team that will embark on it’s third ECHL title defense made for entertaining hockey in a losing effort.
The Tulsa Oilers hosted the Allen Americans in the penultimate game of the 2016-17 ECHL campaign on Friday night with the hopes of ending the season on a high note. They came into the game that way, having defeated the Wichita Thunder 3-2 in OT on Tuesday night.
After starting the game with an opening minute fisticuff session between Oilers forward (and former American) Danick Paquette and Josh Brittain, the Americans scored first on a delayed Oilers penalty, when Chad Costello deftly stick-handled into the slot and lifted a shot under the crossbar.
Allen carried the 1-0 lead into the first intermission, while Tulsa held a 10-6 shots advantage.
Period two saw Tulsa take charge of the game, first on a power play goal by Shawn Bates, who in a goal mouth scramble shoved the puck through Allen goalie Riley Gill, and the final minute of the period took a 2-1 lead off the lumber of Garrett Ladd, who lifted the disc over Gill.
Six seconds ticked off the BOK Center score-clock in the third period and the Americans netted the equalizer, when Costello set up David Makowski on an Americans power play to tie the game at 2-2. Wade McLeod put the visitors back out in front when he tapped a rebound past Tulsa goalie Jonah Imoo 4:58 into the frame.
Three minutes later, on another goal mouth scramble, Adam Pleskach equalized the game for the Oilers when he shoved the puck through Gill to even the scoreboard at 3-3. The Americans took the lead back for good when Costello left a drop pass for Gary Steffes who lifted the puck over Imoo for the game sealing goal.
In the end, Imoo made 20 saves on 24 Americans shots and Gill 42 on 45 Tulsa volleys. The loss to Allen was the Oilers eighth in regulation to the defending Kelly Cup champs and they will finish 3-8-6-2 against them in total.
In the end, mental mistakes were the back breaker for the Oilers, according to Tulsa head coach Jason Christie.
“I think the guys gave themselves a chance to win,” Christie said. “It was just mental mistakes. It is the weak plays that is making us lose goals.”
“We should have won that game,” said Christie. “We had four two-on-ones and only got off shots on two of them.
“It was a battle. The last shot on goal, our defense is standing right next to the guy (who scored). How do you not pick up sticks? It has been killing us.”
The 2016-17 ECHL Season concludes for Tulsa against the Wichita Thunder on Saturday night in the BOK Center.