TULSA, Okla. — The Tulsa Oilers stumbled further down the staircase in the ECHL West as they dropped a third straight game — and fifth in a row overall — on Sunday evening to the Rapid City Rush, falling 4-1 in front of 4,190 in the BOK Center.
The game started off much as Saturday night’s tilt with the Rush did, going scoreless through the first 20 minutes. Tulsa peppered Rapid City’s net with 18 shots with none of them seeing the twine. Just under three minutes into the second period, Giovanni Fiore punched home an unassisted shot from the slot in front of Oilers goalie Devin Williams to put the visitors up 1-0.
Then, Peter Quenneville took advantage of a five-on-three power play and easily tallied the Rush’s second goal at 8:36 of the second. It stayed that way until 17:14 when Miles Liberati ended the Oilers’ nearly five-period home team scoreless drought when he fired in the team’s first power-play goal of the season to cut the lead to a goal.
The Rush added to their lead in the third period when Alex Rauter rifled home a shot off a face-off in the Oilers zone at 3:22 of the third period, and then Chris Izmirlian knocked in an empty-net goal after Williams was pulled with a little over two minutes remaining to complete the two-game sweep for the Rush, who return to the Black Hills with seven of ten points on their five-game road trip to open the season.
There aren’t any easy answers coming from Oilers head coach Rob Murray.
“We are a fragile team right now,” Murray said. “We had multiple opportunities in the first period to take the lead. (We) turnover and it is in the back of the net. We outshot them 18-6 and then go down 1-0 in the second period.”
Ahead for Tulsa is another tilt with Kansas City on Tuesday night, which gives the Oilers just a day to get it together and regroup. It’s something that Murray hopes can resolve itself because he’s not seeing a few of his players living up to the expectations he had for them in the preseason.
“There are certain guys right now that are not contributing,” he said. “There is a lack of commitment for one reason or another. Once that starts, things will turn around for us.”
After Tuesday’s contest against the Mavericks, the Oilers will head to West Virginia for their first-ever game against the Wheeling Nailers, then it’s on to Kalamazoo for a game against the Wings before returning home for two games with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits on October 30-31.
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