TULSA, OK—The Tulsa Oilers hosted the ECHL West leading Utah Grizzlies in a two-game set at the BOK Center on Thursday and Saturday nights last week as part of a season-long seven-game home stand.
Tulsa came into the two-game set fresh off splitting a four game series with the ECHL defending champion Allen Americans and were looking to improve their standing as the games slowly drain away enroute to the 2015-16 ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs.
Game one occurred on Thursday, February 4th and it did not end favorably as the ECHL West division leaders took the Oilers 3-1. Emerson Clark had the lone goal for Tulsa, as he took a sweet pass and lifted it past Grizzlies goaltender Ryan Faragher at the 13:20 mark of the first period to give the Oilers their first and only lead of the game.
It took less than a minute for the Grizzlies to tie it when Charles Sarault found twine behind Tulsa goalie Kevin Carr, and Sarault would strike again in the first period to give Utah a lead they would not relinquish, and in fact build on with another goal by Ryan Walters in the final period. In the end it was Utah opening up the ice in all directions that forced the Oilers off their game on Thursday night ad it would be something they would have to watch if they were to overcome the Grizzlies on Saturday night.
On Saturday night the boys in blue traded their usual colors for pink as they hosted the annual “Pink in the Rink” night to support cancer research and the “Turn Tulsa Pink” effort. The game’s first goal belonged to the Oilers and it meant a whole lot more to the man that placed the puck in the net, defenseman Joe Sova.
Not only was Sova’s goal his first of the 2015-16 campaign, he himself is a cancer survivor.
The second period would be one without a goal but not without the part of the game that sets hockey apart from other sports. A little past the two minute mark in the second period the Oilers Brady Ramsay and Utah’s Kenton Helgesen decided to square off and drop the gloves.
Ramsay decked the 6’3” 194lb forward with a right cross to the jaw after the two men engaged in the jersey grab and a couple of punches each.
After that, it became a two goal lead for the home team as defenseman Dennis Brown would be the skater to set up the point that doubled Tulsa’s lead. A big shot from the blue line by Brown was tapped in by Phil Brewer 2:58 into the third period. Utah cut the lead to a goal but it was the Oilers Adam Pleskach who sealed the win for Tulsa. Pleskach took a pass from Dan DeSalvo and punched it into the Utah net to give the Oilers a much needed two points in the standings and yet another split series with an opponent this season.
The Oilers now have a two wins and two losses when facing the Grizzlies thus far, and they are slated to play three more games against them next month. As of this writing the Oilers are in the seventh position in the ECHL Western Conference standings tied with the Colorado Eagles with 48 points overall. Its crunch time and every point counts.
The Oilers will continue their home stand on Wednesday night when they host the South Carolina Stingrays, last season’s runner up to the league champs, on Wednesday night and they will have a new teammate, Riley Armstrong, who was acquired on Sunday from the Reading Royals for future considerations.
The veteran from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan has suited up for 26 games with the Royals this season, registering 12 points (4 goals and 8 assists) and 40 penalty minutes.