TULSA, OK — There’s no way to sugar coat it: the Tulsa Oilers are in trouble.
The team that was once at the top of the ECHL Central Division, and the ECHL Western Conference and held the best record in the entire league has run aground on the island of losing streaks.
Since the beginning of December, the Oilers have won two times out of six games and both of those games were on the road. The last time the Oilers won in the friendly confines of the BOK Center in downtown Tulsa was back on November 26th, which was a shootout win over Wichita.
Unfortunately, the home losing streak extended to four as the Colorado Eagles swooped into town and defeated the Oilers 4-0 in front of 7,745 at the BOK Center on Friday night. The Eagles have traditionally had the Oilers number since the two teams began playing each other way back in 2003 during the CHL years and Friday night would prove to be no different.
Once again, after battling to a scoreless draw through the first 20 minutes the Eagles sticks came to life less than a minute into the second period and did not let up. When the final horn sounded the visitors had pounded home a shorthanded goal, a power play goal, an even strength goal and an empty netter without an answer from the home team.
In all, the Eagles Darryl Bootland scored a pair of goals while Jackson Houck and Michael Sdao contributed the remaining marks. In the end the loss is the Oilers second straight and fourth in a row at home. It was also the third time the Oilers were shut out at home this season.
The Oilers special teams unit was blanked…again…on all four of their power play opportunities while the Eagles punched in one power play goal for their five man-advantage situations.
Colin Stevens had the Oilers net for the evening and made 28 saves on 31 shots while Clarke Saunders turned aside all 34 Tulsa volleys.
The two teams will face each other again on Saturday night and Tulsa head coach Jason Christie hopes his team will bounce back.
“It was a good old-fashioned whipping,” Tulsa coach Jason Christie said of the loss. “We will see what type of character we have here in the room as we get ready for tomorrow.”
Christie cited a number of factors that led to the loss on Friday night.
“I thought was just a lot of stick play, we were trying to be cute.” he said, “Until they understand that when we were winning games we were all playing together, and now it is a lot of individual stuff, that will hurt you. One guy can only battle so much. The league has gotten too good. You have to move and use your linemates.”
He also addressed his team’s power play drought.
“We had chances on the power play, but they were not going in,” Christie said. “It is no surprise. When you don’t move pucks and don’t use your teammates, you don’t go to the net, how are you going to score goals? Not everything is from the outside.”
It goes without saying that the Oilers are looking for a reversal of their miserable fortunes in game two, but they are going to have to do it without two key players, forward Adam Pleskach and team captain Nolan Julseth-White.
“He is out with a lower body injury,” Christie said of Pleskach. “That hurts losing him and Julseth-White, two big leaders. They do the little things for a team, and we are missing that.”
Tulsa and Colorado will go at it again inside the BOK Center Saturday night.