TULSA, OK – The Tulsa Oilers hockey club just returned from a season long 8-game road trip taking them to the Southeastern and Midwestern quadrants of the ECHL, visiting some familiar opponents and meeting a few new ones for the first time.
The Oilers big bus rolled from South Carolina to Quad City over the past two weeks and it was an up and down journey, to say the least.
Tulsa notched wins over Greenville, Fort Wayne, and Quad City, lost twice to Atlanta, and to South Carolina and Indy once. They lost in Kalamazoo as well, but they fell in overtime which gained the Oilers a point.
In all, out of 16 possible points, the Oilers got seven, which boosted their record to 22-16-4 (48 points=2nd Central Division, 4th ECHL Western Conference).
The final game of the road trip saw the Oilers utilize five different players to gain a 5-3 victory over the Quad City Mallards on Monday afternoon. That said, it didn’t start off very promising as the Oilers saw an early lead turn into a 2-1 deficit at the first break.
Garrett Ladd scored for Tulsa at the six-minute mark of the first period, when he snapped a quick shot past Mallards goaltender C.J. Motte to give the Oilers a lead that lasted just 41 seconds. That was when Ned Lukacevic tied the game for Quad City on a shot that slowly trickled in over the goal line past Oilers goalie Jamie Phillips. The Mallards then took the lead when Nolan Laporte snuck a shot past Phillips from a sharp angle to give the home team the lead at the first intermission.
It took just 22 seconds for the Oilers to grab the equalizer off the stick of Phil Brewer, and they added two more from Christophe Lalancette and the first goal of the season from Wes Cunningham to push the Oilers out to a 4-2 advantage. Quad City cut the lead to a goal when they surrendered a shorthanded goal shortly before the end of the middle frame.
It appeared that the Mallards evened the game in the third period, but it the goal was waved off after it was determined that Phillips was interfered with. Shawn Bates tacked on an empty-net goal in the final seconds to give the Oilers a 5-3 victory to celebrate on the way back to Oklahoma.
Overall the eight game, season long (to date) road trip ended with the Oilers going 3-4-1 altogether which is pretty good considering the icebergs the team has been hitting since the mass call up that happened at the end of November. Things appear to be settling down and the Oilers still remain in the playoff hunt as the league heads into the ECHL All-Star break.
Speaking of the all-star break, as of this writing the Oilers will be sending goalie Jamie Phillips to Glens Falls for the 2017 CCM/ECHL All-Star Classic.
Phillips was been named the ECHL All-Star starting goaltender as the Oilers began their road trip on January 3rd. He attained the honor by posting some impressive numbers in his rookie season with the Oilers. He leads all ECHL goaltenders with 19 wins, 945 saves and 1572 minutes played and is seventh with a 2.63 goals-against average. The Caledonia, ON native went 10-0-0 to start his professional career and posted his first career shutout November 6 in a 3-0 win against Utah. In addition, he was named ECHL Goaltender of the Month in October, Goaltender of the Week for the week of Oct. 31-Nov. 6, and currently boasts a 19-10-2 record, with a .913 save percentage.
Prior to turning pro, Phillips played four seasons at Michigan Tech University and was a seventh-round draft pick of the Winnipeg Jets in 2012.
The Oilers will be at home this weekend for a two-game set with Idaho on Saturday and Sunday night, their only home games in January.