TULSA, OK — The Tulsa Oilers threw everything they had at the Kansas City Mavericks in the third period, but it wasn’t enough as they fell 5-3 in front of 12,845 in the BOK Center on Friday night.
The Mavericks seized the lead 13 minutes into the first period when Justin Breton raced in on Oilers goalie Jake Hildebrand scored on the breakaway, then Kansas City added to their lead when Matt Robertson punched in a one-timer goal with just two seconds to play in the first period.
Dan Correale added to the Mavericks lead on a snapshot in the second period, and Robertson scored his second of the night less than 30 seconds into the third period to give the Oilers a virtually insurmountable 4-goal lead to chip away at.
That’s when the comeback bid started for the home team.
Dennis Brown scored the Oilers first goal of the 2017-18 season when he sent a rocket past Mavericks goalie Tyler Parsons to ruin his shutout bid in the third period’s fourth minute, and newly assigned forward Connor Bleakley shoved the disc under Parsons less than a minute later to cut the visitors lead in half with nearly 15 minutes left in the game.
After an apparent Adam Pleskach goal was waved off for goalie interference, Bleakley found Joey Sides cutting in on the Kansas City net. Sides lifted the puck over Parsons and just like that, the Oilers were on the verge of tying the game. Any hope of that happening was squashed when Mark Cooper slid home an empty-net goal with three seconds to play, allowing Kansas City to escape with a win.
Despite the loss, Tulsa head coach Rob Murray had good things to say about his team after the game.
“I thought we played a decent game all around,” Murray said. “Even when the puck was in our zone, I thought we did a good job defending.”
The Oilers fired 42 shots at the Mavericks net, but Murray felt that a slowdown in the second period where the Oilers were outshot 13-11 hurt the team’s chances in creating scoring chances.
“We made a good effort in the third, but we did not generate near enough in the second period,” Murray said. “If we had it might have been a different story. Except for the empty-net goal, I think all four goals were on the rush.”
Though he isn’t happy with losing on opening night, he didn’t seem worried or concerned at this very early stage of the season.
“I am not satisfied or happy about not winning tonight, but I am not disappointed with the way we played,” Murray said. “The shot total was nearly 2-to-1 at the end. Their goalie played very well. Scoring three goals in the third period was a good sign. That showed we had some resilience and we’re going to try and push back as much as we could.”
From here, the Oilers will undertake a 10-hour drive to Moline, Illinois for their first encounter with the Quad City Mallards for their first road test of the season on Saturday night. They will remain in the Quad City for an October 18th contest before traveling to Indy on October 21st.
The next home game for Tulsa will be on October 25th when the Wichita Thunder comes to town for the start of a three-game homestand.