WEST VALLEY CITY, UT — After an uplifting 3-2 shootout win over the Grizzlies on Wednesday night that put them back in the ECHL Western Conference playoff race, the Tulsa Oilers failed to capitalize on that momentum and lost a pair of games to Utah on Friday and Saturday nights.
So as they return home to the BOK Center for games tonight and Wednesday night, they are on the outside looking in on the Kelly Cup Playoffs, sitting three points behind the Quad City Mallards for eighth place in the western conference.
After the 3-2 shootout victory on Wednesday the Oilers and Grizzlies met again on Friday night.
That night, Tulsa fought with what momentum they could muster but came up a goal short to Utah, 4-3. The following evening, the Grizzlies turned in a more decisive victory defeating the Oilers 3-1. As a result, out of a possible six points in three games on the road the Oilers could only take two, while Quad City managed to vault over Tulsa and into the eighth playoff spot with a win on Saturday over Wichita.
Prior to the contest on Friday, head coach Jason Christie added to his roster through signings from college and waiver claims and they made an immediate impact. Shawn Bates, an acquisition from the Atlanta Gladiators, scored two goals, while Roberts Lipsbergs walked across the hall from the Grizzlies locker room to the Oilers and notched an assist.
In all, since the mass exodus of contract players at the end of February, the Oilers have acquired four players to patch the holes: Bates, Lipsbergs, rookie Ben Murphy and Jacob Poe who was acquired from the Allen Americans.
Tulsa will look to increase their 69 points this week as they have an opportunity for an extra eight. If the Oilers won all four of their games this week and a selected few teams lost, Tulsa could easily jump multiple slots in the standings. Even a few wins for the Oilers could change things.
Looking ahead the Oilers playoff push continues with a pair of home games against the Colorado Eagles, a former Central Hockey League foe that hasn’t darkened the door of the BOK Center since they bolted from the CHL in 2012. The Eagles head into tonight’s game in the 7th playoff position with 74 points, two ahead of the team the Oilers are chasing, Quad City.
After Colorado leaves town, the Oilers will take on the Mallards in Moline, Illinois Saturday, which will likely be the make or break moment for the team. The road has not been kind to the Oilers this season, and they are last place in the ECHL with only 11 road victories.
At home, they have 21 wins and are in the top ten on the man-advantage. In the BOK Center, the Oilers are second in the ECHL on the power play, with a 21.1% efficiency rate, just behind the Fort Wayne Komets. They have 19 total power play goals on 90 attempts in 33 games.
In other player personnel news, the Oilers said goodbye to goaltender Jussi Olkinuora for the second time this season. The Manitoba Moose recalled him on Monday afternoon. Olkinuora appeared in 20 games for Tulsa this season and amassed a 9-8-2 record with a 2.73 goals against average.
Kevin Carr, who has been on the injured reserve since a road game in Missouri, is reportedly good to go and will be in net when the Oilers face the Eagles tonight.
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