TULSA, OK—The best way to take the wind out of a hockey team’s sails it to score on them shorthanded.
The Rapid City Rush did exactly that to effectively shut down the Tulsa Oilers at the BOK Center on Friday night.
After the Oilers tied the game 3-3 on a goal by Darcy Murphy late in the third period, Ryan Misiak raced in a short-handed breakaway and beat Oilers goaltender Colin Stevens between the legs to put Rapid City in front for good.
Hunter Fejes deflected in an empty-net goal to seal the 5-3 win. Rush goalie Adam Morrison stopped 35 of 38 shots for his third win against Tulsa this year.
Combined with the pair of losses to Missouri last weekend, the loss is the team’s third in a row and in the last 10 games, the Oilers have lost nine.
It started off fairly strong for the home team when Shawn Bates knocked in an early goal in at 3:38 of the first period, completing a tic-tac-toe 2-on-1 play and beat Morrison on his left side. The first period ended with the home side up a goal.
The only negative in the period was that the Oilers failed to score on a huge 5-on-3 power play resulting from two roughing penalties, a bench minor and Rush head coach Mark DeSantis getting tossed from the game. This point, which did little to improve the Oilers dead last power play rating, would come back to haunt them in the ensuing period.
The momentum swung in Rapid City’s favor when the Rush went on a 5-on-3 power play of their own in the second period. Austin McKay tied the game on the power play, and Logan Nelson made it 2-1 shortly after the second penalty ended. Bates then set up Garrett Ladd with a pass from behind the net and Ladd tied the score at 2-2, but Fejes banked in a rebound to give the Rush a 3-2 lead entering the third period.
Tulsa would tie it on the Murphy goal mentioned earlier, and the empty net nailed the lid shut on the Rush win which was the club’s second in a row.
The quick math still has the Oilers in a playoff position if the season ended today, but only barely. They are being chased in the ECHL Central Division by the Kalamazoo Wings, who lost Friday night and trail the Oilers by a single point, 52 points to the Oilers 53.
Some would argue it’s still a little too early to start thinking playoffs as there are several games in which Tulsa could improve their position in the standings and thus, their seeding in the post season, they only have nine points in total since 2017 began.
The season long home stand continues Saturday night when the Indy Fuel visit Tulsa for the second time Saturday night.