TULSA, OK — It’s beginning to sound like a broken record for the Tulsa Oilers (16-8-2-0 34pts – 2nd place ECHL Central) at home these days: Start out strong, reveal a weakness, fall apart at the end.
That’s precisely what took place on Wednesday night in the big silver turban as the Oilers fell to the Alaska Aces 3-2. The Aces moved to a tie for first place in the ECHL Mountain division with the Colorado Eagles, a team the Oilers will face this weekend in a two-game set, moving to a 14-5-1-3 record with 32 points.
After the Oilers and Aces battled to a scoreless tie in the first period Phil Brewer opened the scoring for Tulsa, tipping in the rebound of a shot from Wes Cunningham past former Oilers goalie Kevin Carr a scant 34 seconds into the middle frame. Brewer’s goal was his eighth point in the last eight games.
The Aces evened things up with a little over four minutes left in the second period when Peter Sivak scored his 21st goal of the season knocking a bad bounce past Oilers goalie Jamie Phillips. Alaska then surged ahead in the third period when Justin Breton slipped the puck through Phillips on a shorthanded breakaway.
Less than a minute later Danick Gauthier scored the equalizer for the home team, burying the rebound of a shot from Samuel Noreau, who joined the Oilers on Monday from Norfolk.
That, unfortunately, was the last time the sticks of the Oilers would create a goal in the game.
Marc-Andre Levesque wristed a shot through a screen in front of Phillips and it sailed past him giving the Aces their final lead of the night, which they held through the final horn. While the game was a letdown it was a bit of an improvement over the last home loss where the Oilers saw a two-goal lead evaporate against Missouri to lose by the same score last Friday.
“It was close and hard,” Tulsa coach Jason Christie said. “It was close. That is a good, fast team. They work hard and altogether. They finish every check. Carr made some key saves, then we gave up a shorty (short-handed) goal. You can’t win games like that.”
The game was played at a faster pace and very physical. It was a solid performance by his team but Christie sees where he is falling short, particularly on special teams with the power play. The Aces killed off all five of Oilers power play opportunities and scored a shorthanded goal.
“We just have to keep going,” Christie said. “But we still have some bystanders and we can’t have that. Some guys need to step up. You have to be able to win those 1-1 games.”
Former Oilers goalie Kevin Carr was very satisfied in winning against his former club.
“I have been looking forward to this for a long time. It was nice to get back on track for us. Especially here, especially against your old team,” a smiling Carr said of the win. “It is nice to get two points.”
From here the Oilers move forward to a two-game set at home with the other team currently in a tie with the Aces, the Colorado Eagles, on Friday and Saturday night.