TULSA, OK – It’s been over a month since the Tulsa Oilers played a hockey game on their home ice in the BOK Center.
The prolonged road trip hasn’t seen many wins but the Oilers are making progress, primarily in gaining points through the overtime and shootout solution and that’s the big story as the team enters their final two weeks aboard the “iron lung.”
Since hitting the road on November 5th, the Oilers have played a number of games that were settled by either overtime or shootouts. In all, the Oilers have had seven overtime/shootout finishes in their last 14 games, going 4-5-5 in that span.
While he would vastly prefer to emerge from a game with two points rather than just one, head coach Rob Murray considers OT/SO points crucial as those points could determine if the team gets a playoff position later on.
Hildy Gets Hot
Oilers goalie Jake Hildebrand had a slow start to this season but has solid in the Tulsa net in the last few games. Last week, the 24-year old native of Butler, PA went 1-1-1 with a 1.96 goals-against average and a save percentage of .949 in three appearances at Idaho last week.
Hildebrand stopped 40 shots in a 4-3 shootout loss on Wednesday, made 46 saves in a 4-1 win on Friday and turned aside 25 shots in a 2-1 loss on Saturday.
His performance in goal for the Oilers last week for Tulsa garnered him the ECHL/CCM goaltender of the week honors for the week ending December 3. It’s the third time he has won the honor as an ECHL player and it’s the second honor received by a Tulsa goalie this season (Devin Williams received the same award for the week ending on October 29.)
In all this season, Hildebrand is 3-6-4 with a 3.02 goals-against average and a save percentage of .914 in 14 appearances with the Oilers this season. He ranks third in the ECHL with 415 saves and is eighth with 776 minutes played.
Offensive Efforts Gaining Strength
Standing out on offense for the Oilers are Charlie Sampair and Evan Richardson.
Evan Richardson added four more points (2g, 2a) last week to jump to second on the team with 16 points (6g, 10a).
Connor Bleackley leads the club with ten goals and eight assists for 18 points, which includes two shorthanded goals.
Dmitrii Sergeev is the team’s assist leader with 11 helpers.
Charlie Sampair has six goals in his last eight games for nine goals in his first 22 games. He had three goals all of last year.
Welcome Back, Ladd
On Monday the Oilers announced the return of forward Garrett Ladd to the club after a stint overseas.
Ladd, 28, returns to Tulsa, where he had a breakout season for the Oilers in 2016-17. He led the team last season in points with 17 goals and 17 assists for 34 points in 2016-17.
The Fenton, MI native’s 34 points in 58 games were best on the team last year. His 17 goals were second on the Oilers’ roster.
Ladd started the 2017-18 season in the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL), where he compiled six points (3g, 3a) in eight games for the Coventry Blaze.
Two More on the Road, Then Home
This week the Oilers shift eastbound to face two Central Division opponents, Toledo and Cincinnati before returning home to face the Colorado Eagles next week. The Eagles are the only team that Tulsa hasn’t faced in the Mountain Division thus far.
After this weekend’s games in Toledo and Cincinnati, the Oilers will have played half of their away games for the entire season. Tulsa has only played six home games so far, leaving 30 more contests to be played at the BOK Center.