TULSA, OK—Yogi Berra once said “It ain’t over till it’s over”, and time and time again the phrase coined by the famous manager of the New York Yankees has proven itself true not only in baseball, but in other sports as well. Such was the case with only seconds remaining in last night’s game between the Tulsa Oilers (21-16-4) and the Missouri Mavericks (34-5-3).
The Oilers were trailing the Mavericks 3-2 as the BOK Center clocked drained past a minute to go in the game. Tulsa had trailed by as much as 3-0 at one point and had battled back to within a goal with time running out. Jason Christie had pulled goalie Kevin Carr to give the Oilers an extra attacker.
The clock passed the :30 mark and a flurry of shots erupted from various Tulsa players towards the Missouri net, handled either by the Mavericks goalie Stephon Williams or other players blocking the puck. Then 20 and 10 second marks passed and it was do-or-die for Tulsa who could force overtime with a tying goal.
Then, after a long shot from Dan DeSalvo dribbled out to Jimmy Lodge whose own shot rebounded off bodies in front, Adam Pleskach scooped up the rebound and lifted the disc over Williams and into the net.
The light came on, and Tulsa had completed the comeback to force overtime.
But the Oilers’ heroics weren’t over yet.
With a little less than 20 seconds elapsed in the overtime session, the Mavericks looked to have won the game after the puck dribbled past Carr, but Lodge came in to sweep the puck off the line and clear it. Lodge, a new arrival from the Oilers AHL affiliate in Manitoba, would notch three assists in the game Wednesday night and earn the game’s first star.
On the ensuing rush the Oilers, depleted by rule to three players in the extra period, worked the lines into the Mavericks zone. Once again Jimmy Lodge sent a cross-ice pass over to defenseman Connor Kucera, who sent a rocket through traffic in front and into the Missouri net. The game ended on that shot with just under a minute gone in the overtime period.
The win gave Tulsa its second straight victory over the league-leading Mavericks, and continued a trend that the two teams have set for themselves since the season began. In seven of the last eight times the two teams have met the victor only won by a single goal. The exception being the last time the two teams met before Wednesday night, when Tulsa erupted for five unanswered goals in the third period on the road in Independence back on January 23rd.
In the game the Oilers started out sluggish and couldn’t seem to get anything going. The Mavericks roared out to a three goal lead by the game’s midway point on goals by Tanner Fritz, Josh Holmstrom, and Matt Finn.
Goals by Oilers team captain Nathan Lutz and Dennis Brown caused a momentum shift in the second period that the Mavericks could not overcome. Even more remarkably the two teams only sat four minutes in penalties and could not convert on the power plays they were granted.
Kevin Carr made 20 saves on 23 shots for the Oilers while Stefon Williams turned aside 20 for Missouri.
Tulsa continues their season long home stand tonight at 7:05pm when they host the Utah Grizzlies in the first of two with the ECHL West Division leaders.
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