TULSA, OK – According to Tulsa Oilers head coach Rob Murray, his team needs to get on a roll. The wins aren’t coming in the frequency he’s liking and although the season isn’t over by any stretch of the imagination, it’s time for his club to buckle down and start winning with greater regularity.
They got a taste of what they needed to do on Sunday afternoon when they hosted the Colorado Eagles, the ECHL’s best team, and handed them a 5-4 defeat.
The second period was the key period for the Oilers on Sunday as the team erupted for four goals off the lumber of Vladimir Nikiforov, Adam Pleskach, Garrett Ladd and Joey Sides.
After a first period where Colorado used the Tulsa net as a shooting gallery, peppering goalie Jake Hildebrand with 15 shots and scoring one goal, Nikiforov started Tulsa’s big second period with a terrific move in front of the Eagles net before lifting a backhander over Sam Brittain and into the net. Tulsa took the lead when Adam Pleskach snapped a shot over Brittain’s left shoulder on a hard wrist shot from the left circle.
Tulsa made it 3-1 with 4:10 to play in the middle stanza when Ladd snapped a shot from high in the slot through a screen on the power play. 86 seconds later, Joey Sides deflected a shot into the top of the net 1:26 later to bring to score to 4-1. It was the first four-goal period of the season for Tulsa.
Emil Romig cut Colorado’s deficit to two when he jammed home a loose puck in the crease with 1:35 to play in the period. The Eagles attempted to mount a comeback in the final frame, but the Oilers halted it and came away with a hard-fought win.
“I felt this was a must win. We gutted it out,” Oilers coach Rob Murray said.
The problem is that Tulsa has been hovering around the .500 mark for most of the 2017-16 season and haven’t been able to break out and mount a serious winning streak.
Previous to Sunday’s win over the Eagles, the Oilers lost two straight to Idaho on Friday and Saturday night and won two out of their previous four games facing Wichita and Allen. With the season now past the All-Star break wins are starting to become crucial if they are to avoid a third-straight miss of the postseason.
“Time is running out,” Murray said, now that the Oilers (16-17-3-5) are just past the halfway point of the season. “We are on the outside looking in. We have to find a way to go on kind of a roll. We really have not had that big roll where we have won five, six or seven in a row. We have to find a way to get on a roll.”
The Oilers will hit the road this week for three straight games in Utah before returning home to face Rapid City on January 30.