TULSA, Okla. – When you’re at the bottom, you have to claw your way up, and the Tulsa Oilers had the chance to do exactly that as they hosted the Rapid City Rush, with whom they shared the basement residence of the ECHL’s Western Conference at the beginning of the weekend.
The Oilers were looking for a way to atone for a disastrous weekend last weekend where they saw Kansas City ran roughshod over a seemingly disinterested Tulsa team, defeating them three of four times, outscoring them 16-1 to finish the weekend. Oilers head coach Rob Murray made some changes in the intervening week and welcomed the Rush for the three-game weekend set.
On Friday night, Tulsa looked to return to winning form. They saw goalie Devin Williams turn in a 29-save shutout. Gregg Burmaster, Adam Pleskach, and Vincent Marleau put three pucks in the net behind Rush goaltender Adam Carlson for a satisfying 3-0 victory.
Riding that positivity forward into Saturday, the Oilers embarked on the second game against the Rush. It was a crazy affair that saw eight goals scored in regulation time, with Oilers forward Danny Moynihan contributing two goals, with Matt Lane and Alex Brooks adding the other two marks for the home side. This effort was matched in part by Rapid City’s Peter Quenneville, who scored a pair of goals with Cedric Montminy and Hunter Garlent punching in the other two for the visitors. This couldn’t be decided in 60 minutes, or the additional seven in the extra frame, to the shootout it went.
Quenneville would score the only goal in the shootout to complete the hat trick, while Rush goalie Brad Barone turned aside all three Oilers shooters (Moynihan, Brooks, and Alan Lyszczarczyk) to give the Rush a hard-earned victory.
The rubber match came on Sunday afternoon, and once again, it took more than sixty minutes to get a result. The game went scoreless through the first twenty and a half minutes before Marleau would punch in a power-play goal, followed just 26 seconds later by a goal by a Matt Lane marker, assisted by Marleau.
Then, as it has been several times this season, the Oilers allowed their opponents to get themselves back in the game, as Quenneville would score to narrow the game to a one-goal differential, and Montminy tied it up by the end of regulation.
Unlike the night before, it took Quenneville just 16 seconds to give the visitors an OT victory.
In the end, the Oilers managed to grab four standings points out of the weekend, which was an improvement over last weekend. Still, it illustrated one of the Oilers’ weaknesses this season: an inability to finish key games, especially in overtime.
Losing is never acceptable to Tulsa head coach Rob Murray, but he took Sunday’s game as a whole in stride.
“I did not mind our game. We just have to close it out,” Murray said. “I just watched the replay on a three-on-three and that is not how you play a three-on-three. Three-on-three you get a lot of good chances. You should not score on a wrist shot from the top of the circle. That is just one of a couple of things that did not go right tonight.”
As for coming away from the weekend with points in the standings, Murray was less complimentary.
“That is a good thing. But that is not getting us anywhere right now,” Murray said.
The Oilers have a full week in front of them with three games against Wichita next weekend.