TULSA,OK—The Tulsa Oilers (26-34-6-2) returned home for the first time in a month to face the Wichita Thunder (18-41-5-1) on what was an historic, record setting night for the club in terms of attendance.
16,753 attended Friday’s game in the BOK Center, and that eclipsed the previous attendance mark set by the team in October 2008 when the team drew 16,096 to the very first hockey game ever played in the arena and it catapulted the Oilers into second place all time in ECHL history in only their third year in the league.
Greensboro holds the all time record set on January 15, 1994 at 20,911 when they defeated Charlotte 7-1.
Unfortunately, the game played on Friday night ended much like it did nine years ago in that the Oilers lost in dramatic fashion. In 2008 it was a 5-1 loss to the Oklahoma City Blazers of the Central Hockey League and on Friday it was a 4-1 loss to the Thunder.
To be fair, neither team has anything to play for other than pride considering that both teams are excluded from the 2017 ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs, but as it turned out only one team decided to show up.
The Oilers and Thunder battled out a scoreless first period that saw the Oilers outshoot Wichita 15-9. Dennis Brown broke the scoreless tie when he blasted the puck through traffic and past Thunder goalie Drew Owsley to give Tulsa their first lead at home in a months time.
Then, after Matt DeBlouw upended Oilers goalie P.J. Musico in the Tulsa zone, forward Emerson Clark pursued him and squared off. For his efforts the forward earned two minutes for instigation, five minutes for the fight and an early trip to the showers for continuation of the altercation.
Musico was a favorite target of the Thunder on Friday because Ian Lowe did the same thing in the third period and after that happened Tyson Wilson gave Lowe some good news.
Brown’s goal and the fisticuffs incidents were unfortunately all the record crowd in the BOK Center could consider high points because after Brown scored it was all Wichita Thunder.
Ryan Rupert capitalized on a Thunder power play. Wichita then took its command of the game on a five-minute power play late in the period, after the Clark/DeBlouw fight, when Louick Marcotte fired a one-timer past Musico with 4:57 left, giving the Thunder a 2-1 lead after two.
Rupert got the third Wichita marker on another power play late in the third, and Blake Tatchell added an empty netter to seal the win for the visitors. The Tulsa Oilers haven’t won a hockey game since March 3rd, when they defeated the Thunder 3-2 in Wichita.
Tulsa heads back out on the road for two games. The first is in Allen on Saturday night and Wichita next Tuesday. Next weekend concludes the 2016-17 ECHL season for Tulsa with a pair of games with the same two teams in the same order.