ALLEN, TX,–The Tulsa Oilers battled hard against the Allen Americans on Friday night, erasing three deficits, forcing extra time, and a shootout only to fall to the defending Kelly Cup Champions 5-4.
That’s hard cheese, to be sure, but with Kalamazoo defeating Norfolk tonight 5-3 they eliminated the Oilers from the playoffs for the second straight year, a tough pill to swallow considering that Tulsa was at one point the toast of the entire league early on in the season.
Allen got on the board first when the puck caromed into the Tulsa net off the skate of former Oiler Gary Steffes. Tyler Barnes set up the goal by banking the puck off Steffes skate blade to give the Americans a 1-0 lead at the first break.
Barnes scored again on the power play to open the home team lead to two goals in the opening minute of the second period, and that was answered by the Oilers Tyson Wilson when he banked in a shot off an Allen defender’s skate. Eric Drapluk got the equalizer a short time later when he sent the puck through traffic and past Americans goaltender Riley Gill. Barnes netted a second power play mark to give his team a one-goal advantage going into the second intermission.
Darcy Murphy tied the game at 3-3 with a long shot from the blue line that snuck under the crossbar 32 seconds into the third period. Allen again moved back in front, when Alex Krushelnyski finished off a tic-tac-toe passing play, but Danick Gauthier answered back 1:07 later when he buried his own rebound to force overtime.
After a fruitless overtime session in which the Oilers were gifted a four-on-three power play, Barnes ended the contest by scoring the game winner during the shootout.
Tulsa goalie P.J. Musico made 28 saves on 32 Allen shots while Gill made 38 saves on 42 Oilers shots.
The final stretch of six “pride” games for the Oilers begins with a return engagement with the Americans on Saturday night.