TULSA, OK – While losing in overtime actually counts for something in hockey these days, it’s still losing, and it’s becoming a bad habit as of late for the Tulsa Oilers.
The team that at one time, had a perfect home record since the beginning of the season, has dropped three straight games as the Oilers blew not one but two leads against the Allen Americans, only to lose 4-3 to the two-time defending ECHL championss on Sunday afternoon.
Garrett Ladd scored first for Tulsa by slamming the puck home after stealing the puck from an Americans defender right in front of Allen goalie, Riley Gill. Ladd paid for scoring the goal shortly afterward as an Allen defender checked him hard him to the ice during the aftermath of the goal, which clearly illustrated that the game was going to be a physical one with the defending ECHL champs.
Danick Gauthier made the score 2-0 at 16:45 of the first period as he fooled Gill with a backhand on the breakaway.
The problem however, is that you can’t get comfortable with a two-goal advantage when you play the defending champions, and that was illustrated by a goal by Chad Costello to put the Americans on the board at 6:58 of the second period.
A shorthanded goal from Dyson Stevenson, who caromed a shot off of Tulsa goalie Jamie Phillips, pulled the Americans even just before the game’s second intermission.
In the second period, the Oilers could have pulled ahead on an Adam Pleskach goal that was overruled by the referee after initially being signaled as a good goal. Pleskach had an open net staring him in the face and he shot the puck in, but as it went in the net broke loose from its moorings.
The Americans players vehemently protested to the referee and apparently he agreed, so no goal. The third period saw the Oilers pull ahead for the final time with the goal coming from defenseman, Dennis Brown. Nearly three minute later the Americans tied it again when a deflection of a Travis Brown centering pass off of Jake Marchment found the back of the Oilers net.
All it took was the Americans breaking loose Chad Costello after a turnover at the Allen blue line, who raced in and passed off to Eric Roy, who buried the disc top shelf behind Phillips to give the visitors the come-from-behind victory after being behind on the scoreboard by as many as two goals early on in the contest.
An overtime loss counts for one point in the standings, but it’s of little consolation to the Oilers who at one point had a commanding lead over the entire ECHL a week ago. They fall to 11-5-1-0 on the season thus far with a busy late November and December ahead.
Not surprisingly, with three straight home losses Tulsa head coach, Jason Christie has a lot of issues with his team’s performance of late.
“We had our chances, but look at the mistakes we make. It was a good thing that (Jamie) Phillips was standing on his head. He makes those saves and we are just out there cruising around, not going through bodies. You can’t play that way.”
The number of players missing due to injury and call up/assignment is not helping matters any, but Christie has said it’s an opportunity being missed for the guys not in the cross-hairs of any AHL team to step up.
“We have a lot of individual hockey right now,” Christie said. “That is not how we can play the game. If I am a player I’ve got to think, ‘How can I be better?’ ”
“We have to be a better hockey team, we can’t sit there and wait for somebody else.”, Christie continued.
The Oilers have a busy holiday week ahead with four games against the Wichita Thunder. Two games apiece at home and on the road starting on Wednesday and Friday in Wichita and back-to-back at home on Saturday and Sunday.