TULSA, OK — Every game is a test and the Tulsa Oilers have been up to the tests provided them thus far in the 2016-17 ECHL campaign.
One of the greater tests of the young season came on Wednesday when the Oilers entertained the Fort Wayne Komets for the first time since they were members of the CHL four years ago. The Komets battled the Oilers hard, coming from behind to tie the game only to have Tulsa forward Dan DeSalvo score the game winner in overtime giving the game a 4-3 score in favor of the home team.
It was a gritty, physical battle with Fort Wayne from the drop of the first puck.
While it took nearly the entire first 20 minutes for the Oilers to score the game’s first goal, the first period featured very hard checking and one fight between the Oilers Danick Paquette and Fort Wayne’s Bobby Shea.
In the end though, with the final seconds in the first ticking down Tulsa forward Phil Brewer ripped a shot from the left circle that left Komets goalie Eric Hartzell flat-footed and as the horn sounded a few seconds later the Oilers had a 1-0 lead at the first intermission.
Period two began with the Komets stepping up the physical play in the second period that saw 11 penalties totaling 28 minutes handed out.
Fort Wayne was gifted a 5-on-3 advantage in the period, and they used that gift to tie the score 1-1 on a Jamie Schaafsma shot that rose over Tulsa netminder Jamie Phillps and into his net.
The Oilers then resumed the lead less than a minute later when on a shorthanded rush Emerson Clark was hooked down by a Fort Wayne defender on a breakaway toward the Komets goal and that resulted in a penalty shot for the Oilers, which was taken by Clark.
The Whitby, Ontario native scooped up the puck and swung wide to the right of Hartzell, then darted in and slipped the disc past him.
Kale Kessy made it a two-goal lead 49 seconds later on a neat passing play that sent the puck off Kessy’s lumber into the Komets cage. Fort Wayne made it 3-2 with a little under five minutes left in the second period when Shawn Szydlowski buried a one-timer to cut Tulsa’s lead to one entering the third period.
It took the entire third period for the Komets to knot up the score at three when the visitors used the combination of a pulled goalie and an ill-timed Tulsa penalty to convert a power play goal with just 25 seconds remaining in regulation. It was a simple matter of forward Kyle Thomas sliding the puck in past Phillips while standing at the goal mouth.
The next poorly timed penalty was the fault of the Komets in the extra period, and with Trevor Cheek boxed for hooking, Dan DeSalvo rang the puck under the crossbar of the Fort Wayne net, ending the game at 2:55 of the overtime session.
The win is the Oilers tenth of the season, elevates them to a perfect 8-0 in the BOK Center and it gave the reigning ECHL Goaltender Of The Week his tenth win of the season, with Jamie Phillips making 31 saves on 34 Fort Wayne shots.
DeSalvo’s goal brought a power play goal drought to an apparent end for Tulsa but the team still ranks 22nd overall in the league with five power play tallies.
The Oilers remain perfect at home but there’s always room for improvement, which was the crux of head coach Jason Christie’s comments after the game.
“It could have gone either way with some of those calls,” Tulsa coach Jason Christie said of several penalty calls that resulted in the Komets going 3-for-7 on the power play, while Tulsa was 1-for-7. “We were kind of on our heels in the last seven minutes and a half. We are letting (Jamie) Phillips make those saves, but we have to help him.”
From here the Oilers head up to Wichita for the start of a home-and-home set at INTRUST Bank Arena on Friday and the BOK Center on Saturday.
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