TULSA, OK — The Tulsa Oilers (1-3-0-1) returned home to the BOK Center on Wednesday night to face the Wichita Thunder (5-0-0-0), their first home game in a week’s time. Some 3,438 fans were eager to see the home team win, but left disappointed as one of the hottest clubs in the ECHL handed them a 3-1 defeat.
For the second time in two games, it took two periods for the Oilers to find the net, and that happened when Evan Richardson scored his third point in as many games at 8:38 of the third period to foil Wichita netminder Joel Rumpel’s shutout bid.
Before that of course, it was all Thunder. Lane Bauer opened the scoring for the Thunder when he tapped in a centering pass from Louick Marcotte for his second marker of the season. The Thunder carried the one-goal advantage into the game’s first break.
Wichita capitalized on a brief 5-on-3 power play when Travis Brown hopped out of the penalty box and shot a puck toward the net that was tipped in by Mark MacMillan to give the Thunder a 2-0 lead.
Late in the frame, ECHL Player of the Week Kyle Platzer raced after a loose puck and gave Wichita its third goal on a buzzer-beating breakaway tally.
The Oilers were blanked on the power play in the game, and the 3-0 deficit chased Tulsa starting goalie Jake Hildebrand from the net in favor of Devin Williams. In his two periods, Hildebrand stopped 17 of 20 shots. Williams turned aside four shots in the third.
Head coach Rob Murray is frustrated by his team’s inability to generate offense in the first five games of the season.
“We did not come out of the gate like we should have after being on the road,” Murray said. “Still, I am not going to question the way we played. I thought we played well enough to win, even though it was a 3-1 game. It is frustrating because you want to win. We will work through this and get better as we go along. We are 1-3-1 and all five games we played well enough to win.”
While he wasn’t specific about why he went with Williams after three goals were scored on Hildebrand through two periods, he was crystal clear about why at least the third goal was scored in the second period’s dying seconds.
“That goal at the end of the second period, it was almost like everyone had stopped playing,” Murray said.
While the Oilers have lost three straight, the Thunder extended their season-opening win streak to five with the victory in Tulsa on Wednesday night. From here, Tulsa moves on to face Allen for three straight, two at home and one in Allen, beginning Friday night at 7:05 pm.