TULSA, Okla. – It was a long time coming, but the puck finally dropped on the 28th consecutive season of professional hockey when the Tulsa Oilers faced off against the Wichita Thunder in front of 2,672 in the BOK Center on Friday night.
Early season jitters and chemistry issues were the rule of the evening for both clubs.
The first period went scoreless as both teams sought to establish a foothold on the fact that they were actually playing and that what they were doing actually counted in the standings. Then in the second period, the Thunder notched the scoreboard first when Chantz Petruic scored his first professional goal on a two-on-one play with Johnny Curran. Petruic slipped the puck past Oilers goaltender Devin Williams at 7:38 of the second frame.
Later on in the period, Matteo Gennaro took advantage of an offensive miscue and scored shorthanded to put the Thunder up 2-0 with less than ten seconds left in the second period.
It was only fitting that Adam Pleskach would be the first Oilers player to score a goal this season as he took a cross-ice pass from Mike McKee at 4:42 of the third period and sliced the puck past Thunder goalie Mitch Gillam. Pleskach’s goal was followed by a mark by Gregg Burmaster at 12:32 to knot the score at two apiece.
Regulation time expired and the teams played out the seven-minute overtime period to a scoreless tie. Then in the shootout, Peter Crinella scored the lone goal for Wichita that wound up giving the visitors the decision.
Oilers head coach Rob Murray saw a few things the team needed to work on moving forward.
“We did not execute on our power play as good as we should have since we have been practicing it. But it is early in the season,” Murray said. “We missed two two-on-ones and two breakaways. One of those breakaways could have been the difference in the game.”
That said, he did see where there were high points they could build on.
“There are things we need to tighten up,” he said. “There were some guys that were not on the same page. But that is to be expected. We had guys in the wrong spot. I was pleased with the effort. We came back in the third. Both goalies played really well. Both teams had some good chances in overtime.”
Tulsa will host the Allen Americans on Saturday night at 7:05 pm, while the Thunder are off until December 26, when they play the Kansas City Mavericks.
Rich Lohman covers the Tulsa Oilers for The Sin Bin. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @SinBinOilers.