INDEPENDENCE, MO — Fast starts are good in hockey, but they don’t always hold up throughout the game.
The Tulsa Oilers traveled north to Independence, Missouri for their second game with the Missouri Mavericks in a week. Despite the Oilers best efforts, including goals from Adam Pleskach and Garrett Ladd, the Oilers fell apart and fell to the Mavs 7-2.
The highlights for the Oilers took place in the game’s opening five minutes as Darcy Murphy set up Ladd for the game’s first tally at 2:46 to give the Oilers their first lead, and Christophe Lalancette fed Pleskach at 5:15 to extend the visitors lead to 2-0.
That would be the only lead the Oilers would enjoy because it was all Mavericks from there on out.
Missouri received a 5-on-3 power play a few minutes after the second Oilers goal, and the Mavericks scored shortly after the first power play expired, when Dan Correale cashed in on a one-timer from low in the right circle. Dane Fox then tied the game at 2-2 heading into the first intermission when he buried a centering pass on a 2-on-1 rush.
Correale scored his second of the night to give Missouri its first lead early in the second period, when he lifted the puck over Tulsa goaltender P.J. Musico‘s left pad as Correale was falling down. Justin Breton added an unassisted goal to pad the Mavericks’ lead to 4-2 after two frames.
Fox added his second 2:27 into the third to extend the Mavericks lead to 5-2. Stephen Silas then made it 6-2 just 44 seconds later. Missouri scored once more at 6:05 of the third period, when Shawn Pauly snuck a backhander past Musico, forcing Tulsa to make a goaltending change.
Newly-acquired goaltender Jonah Imoo stepped in, did not surrender a goal, and made eight stops on eight shots.
Needless to say, this loss escalates the possibility of the Tulsa Oilers missing the playoffs for a second straight year. As of right now, Tulsa sits at 26-30-5-1 with 58 points in the ECHL Central Division, this is eight points behind the Kalamazoo Wings, who sit in the fourth and final playoff spot.
Toledo and Fort Wayne have clinched their playoff spots, while Quad City and Kalamazoo remain in play. In simpler language, it’s a situation where Tulsa needs to win a lot, and Kalamazoo has to lose a lot for the Oilers to be part of the ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs this season.
Ironically, up next for the Oilers is a three-game set with Fort Wayne next weekend and a stop in Toledo the following weekend before finally returning to the BOK Center on 31st. It’s a trip that could seal the Oilers’ fate.