TULSA, OK – Friday night’s game at the BOK Center may as well be the second home opener of the season for the Tulsa Oilers. It will the team’s first home game since November 4, a span of 34 days.
The Oilers spent the last six weeks traversing the width and breadth of the ECHL on a rollercoaster road trip from Texas to South Dakota and from Ohio to Boise and back.
Coming home on a high note…
The highlight of the road trip occurred in the final two games when the Oilers swept the Toledo Walleye 5-2 and the Cincinnati Cyclones 3-1 last Friday and Saturday nights.
The Tulsa Oilers dominated the top team in the Central Division Friday, handing the Toledo Walleye just their second home defeat of the season.
Joey Sides (1g, 1a) and Alexandre Ranger (1g, 2a) scored first period goals for Tulsa, before Mike McKee and Garrett Ladd extended the lead to 4-0 by the end of the second frame.
McKee’s marker was his first as a pro, and Ladd’s was his first of the season in his first game since returning from Europe.
Davis Vandane scored twice in the third period for Toledo, but Charlie Sampair provided the final dagger, a third period breakaway tally. Oilers goaltender Devin Williams stopped 27 of 29 shots for his fifth win of the season.
It was a slower start in Cincinnati on Saturday night, with the home team getting their first and only mark in the opening stanza. Vladimir Nikoforov answered to tie and then push the Oilers into the lead with two quick goals in the first five minutes of the second period, and Steven Kaunisto added the insurance marker to give the Oilers late in the third to give his team their second win in as many nights.
Also notable during Saturday’s game was the performance of reigning ECHL Goaltender of the Week Jake Hildebrand, who made 24 saves, including a flashing of the leather that robbed a prime Cyclones scoring chance in a 2-1 game during the third period.
Back home again in Oklahoma…
It’s always good to come back home after a month in the “Iron Lung” but the first two games at home will be against two of the stronger teams in the ECHL Mountain Division, Colorado and Allen.
Friday’s game features the first meeting of the season between the Oilers and the Eagles, with the Eagles having recently climbed atop the Mountain on the strength of nine wins in their last 10 games.
Saturday’s game has the Oilers facing the Americans for the sixth time this season. In their last meeting the, Oilers fell to Allen when they netted an overtime goal with just 2.5 seconds to go.
The Americans sit in fourth place at 13-6-2-1 with 29 points, five points ahead of Tulsa in fifth at 24 points (9-8-3-3).
Oil Patch Trends…
• The Oilers have earned at least a point in 6 out of their last 7 games (4-1-2).
• Tulsa finished its 14-game road trip (Nov.5 – Dec. 9) with a record of 4-5-4 with one suspended game (11/17).
• 18 of the Oilers’ first 24 games have been away from home, leaving 30 of 36 home games left to be played.
Jake Hildebrand has a save percentage of .951 over his last 7 appearances.
Charlie Sampair has 7 goals in his last 10 games.
Vladimir Nikiforov had 3 points (2g, 1a) with a +4 rating in two games over the weekend.
Cats with the Stats…
POINTS: 18 – Conner Bleackley*
GOALS: 10 – Conner Bleackley*/Charlie Sampair
ASSISTS: 12 – Evan Richardson
PLUS/MINUS: +11 – Joey Sides
PIMS: 44 – Conner Bleackley*
PP GOALS: 2 – Eric Drapluk, Tommy Vannelli, Adam Pleskach, Evan Richardson
SH GOALS: 3 – Conner Bleackley*
GW GOALS: 2 – Conner Bleackley*, Adam Pleskach
SHOTS: 92 – Adam Pleskach
WINS: 5 – Devin Williams
GAA: 2.72 – Devin Williams
SAVE %: .916 – Jake Hildebrand
Conner Bleackley was reassigned to Chicago (AHL) last week.