TULSA, OK—The Tulsa Oilers had a big weekend at home and once the dust had settled they came away with nearly all of the points possible and their 25th win of the 2015-16 ECHL campaign.
The weekend consisted of two games with the Quad City Mallards and a game with the Wichita Thunder. The Mallards came to Tulsa on Friday night riding a six-game losing streak that would be extended to seven when the Oilers handed them a 3-2 loss in front of a season-high crowd of 10,050 at the BOK Center.
The game started off very tight as both teams only managed to crack off only one shot each through the first four minutes of the contest. It would set a tone for the remainder of the game as both teams battled hard in the opening frame. Adam Pleskach would break the stalemate with 4:09 left in the first period when he scored his 17th goal of the season. Pleskach buried a wrist shot past goaltender Brody Hoffman after receiving a through pass from Dan DeSalvo.
DeSalvo’s assist extended his point streak to seven consecutive games and he has points in twelve straight home games, a mark he would improve on as the weekend progressed. In the second period the Oilers increased their lead to 2-0 when Jordan Kremyr scored off the wing on a two-on-one. Kremyr’s goal came 9:41 into the second period and was his fourth of the season.
Phil Brewer then took the Oilers to a three-goal lead 17 seconds later when he converted a Mallards blue line turnover into a goal, top-shelfing the puck into the net. The Oilers appeared to be firmly in control of the game at that point, but the visitors weren’t about to curl up and die just yet. Quad City responded quickly with a goal 12:45 into the second period. Matt Carey roofed a wraparound-shot over Kevin Carr to give the forward his 12thon the year.
Carey would assist on the next Mallards goal when he fed the puck to Kevin Henderson who slammed in a one-timer to cut the Tulsa lead to one going into the final 20 minutes. Both goaltenders closed their nets tight for the final frame and despite a number of fine chances for both clubs the Oilers survived to earn their 24th win of the year and extended their winning streak at home to three.
Then came the rubber match between the Oilers and Mallards on Saturday, and a less desirable outcome occurred. Once again the Oilers established a lead but a combination of different factors, namely questionable officiating and the game plan altered by physicality on the part of Quad City drove the visitors to an overtime victory.
The first 20 minutes of Saturday’s game went without a goal as both teams seemed locked down on defense. It was truly a snoozer of a period. Within two minutes of the start of the middle frame, the Oilers would weigh down their side of the BOK Center scoreboard with a pair of goals. The first came from Dan DeSalvo, who scored on the rebound of a Connor Kucera shot to give Tulsa a 1-0 lead.
The goal was on an Oilers power play, and that would be a familiar theme throughout the remainder of the game. Axel Blomqvist scored for Tulsa next, extending the Oilers lead to 2-0 on an even strength marker five minutes later.
Once the third period came so did the action, and once again the Mallards made it clear that the fire was not out on their side of the arena. Matt Carey pulled Quad City within one goal of the Oilers when he scored a power play tally on a feed from Guillaume Gelinas. Then Quad City would tie the game at two at the 11:39 mark off a goal from Raphael Bussieres.
A large brawl/scrum erupted shortly after the second QC goal, resulting in a number of roughing minors and a 10-minute misconduct to the Oilers Matthieu Gagnon. Then the Mallards assumed command of the game when Carey got his second goal on the ensuing man-advantage. In the dying seconds of the game though, once again Oilers rookie defenseman Connor Kucera was up to the task, typing the game at three and sending the game into overtime for the third time in four nights.
The teams started off three a-side but after referee Nick LaDuc called Christophe Lalancette for hooking the Mallards went on the four on three power play and all they needed to do was find a seam and it was Bussieres who cranked his second goal of the game past Carr. The Mallards snapped a seven game losing streak while the Oilers failed to extend their win streak to four straight.
Fatigue was the name of the game on Sunday as a game with Wichita, the Oilers longest rivals through two leagues came to town for their first game in nearly a month. Both teams were coming off two hard fought games, Tulsa with Quad City and the Thunder with South Carolina. The Oilers were looking to return to their winning ways while Wichita was looking to find a win after having lost a number of games in what is turning out to be a hapless season for them.
It took nearly two full periods for either team to find the back of the net but when one did, it was Tulsa’s Adam Pleskach who did so first late in the second. The goal was Pleskach’s 18th on the season and tied him with forward Emerson Clark, who is currently on loan with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League, for most Oilers goals this season. Dan DeSalvo and Phil Brewer tallied the assists on the goal. That assist gave DeSalvo points in nine straight games and points in 14 straight home games.
Not to be outdone, Thunder tough man Erick Lizon scored off the faceoff to set the logjam back in place that would extend past the allotted 60 minutes. In overtime, Christophe Lalancette won a face-off to Blomqvist at the 1:58 mark of overtime. Blomqvist gathered the puck and snuck it past Rollheiser to crown the Oilers victorious. The goal gave Blomqvist tallies in back-to-back games and three goals in his last four games with Tulsa.
In the playoff race the Oilers win on Sunday elevated them to 25-17-5 with 55 points, giving them third place in the ECHL Central Division and 6th place in the ECHL Western Conference which if the season ended today would place them in the Kelly Cup Playoffs with seeding to be determined by tiebreaker because the Cincinnati Cyclones have the same number of points.
The next game for Tulsa will be Tuesday night when they face Missouri.