TULSA, Okla. – Playing in their third game in as many nights, the Tulsa Oilers took on the Rapid City Rush for the first time this season and fell in a lopsided game that saw the Rush dominate all the way to a 5-3 decision in front of 4,014 in the BOK Center on Sunday afternoon.
The Oilers came into the game smarting from a tough 5-4 loss at the hands of Allen on Saturday night, while Rapid City had been stung by Wichita 4-3 and was looking for their first win. The Rush scored first on their first shot of the contest when Keeghan Howdeshell solved Tulsa goalie Olle Eriksson-Ek just shy of four minutes into the contest and the visitors were off and running.
By the time the horn sounded to end the first twenty minutes, Peter Quenneville and Tyler Coulter had the Oilers looking up out of a 3-0 hole. Giovanni Fiore tacked on a goal in the second period to give the Rush a comfortable lead going into the final stanza. It wasn’t until near three minutes had gone by in the third period did Danny Moynihan find twine behind Rush goaltender Tyler Parks to ruin his shutout bid. Less than a minute after Moynihan scored, Ryker Killins answered the Oilers’ goal for the Rush.
Deven Sideroff and Dakota Joshua added two more goals to the Oilers tally, but in the end, there were too few minutes left in the game to matter. When the dust settled, the Oilers were left with back-to-back losses, just two out of a possible six points on opening weekend, and a lot of problems to solve moving forward.
A perplexed Rob Murray had few answers after the game.
“We played a solid game all around on Friday and that led me to believe we’d do well throughout the weekend,” Murray said of the Oilers, who fell to 1-2-0-0. “Then last night (Saturday) we have two late leads that we relinquish, then give up a goal with two minutes to go.”
Special teams are also becoming an issue, as three of the five Rush goals on Sunday came on a power play. On Saturday night, the Oilers gave up a shorthanded goal plus two power-play markers against the Americans.
“We are out of sync,” Murray said. “We are not in the positions we are supposed to be for one reason or another. We missed a day of practice last week because the ice was not ready and that hurt us. But that is no excuse. We have enough talent we should (be able) to generate something on the power play. Our penalty kill — two goals (Saturday) night and three (Sunday), that’s the difference in the games right there.”
Rapid City went 3-of-6 with the man advantage while the Oilers were blanked 0-for-6. Parks stopped 36 of the 39 shots he faced while Eriksson-Ek turned aside 16 of 21. It’s clear that Tulsa needs to work on the nuts and bolts of their game going into their next game, which is on the road this Friday in Independence against Kansas City.
“It will come,” Murray said. “That is something we definitely have to work on this week. We will get a good week of practice in and get ready for next weekend.”
Tulsa will head off for their first road game in Kansas City Friday night, then return home for a pair of games against Rapid City at home on Saturday and Sunday.
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