, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Despite the 4-3 loss to Tulsa in a shootout, the Wichita Thunder team played the best hockey I’ve seen out of them this season for two full periods and an overtime against the top ranked team in the Central Division. The Thunder have been frustrating to watch this season. They show clear signs of progressive cohesion and then they turn around a lay an egg in spectacular fashion. Each time I think they might be at a turning point, they show up late, not able to gain any ground until near the end of a game when it is decidedly too late (for instance, their Nov. 15th 3-2 loss to Allen). Two steps forward and one step back. But last night was different for a change — one step backward and two huge steps forward. This team can play fast, smart hockey, but they still need help with scoring.

Thunder’s dismal and lackluster first period led to two Tulsa goals — the first, at 7:10, was a short-handed goal by Steve Mele (assisted by Matt Larke) after a disastrous breakdown and giveaway by the Thunder powerplay unit. Tulsa’s second goal, at 18:00, came directly following the faceoff win by Jeff Jubinville to T.J. Caig who sniped it past Boron for Tulsa’s 2-0 lead. At the end of the first period Tulsa had dominated the shots-on-goal 11-5.

While the Thunder had trouble passing, shooting (5 shots in total!) and even getting into their offensive zone at times in the first period, the 2nd period was a completely different situation as the Thunder outshot the Oilers an astonishing 26 to 5 for the period. The Thunder came out incredibly strong and completely dominated the Oilers outshooting Tulsa by huge margins until 7:10 when Tulsa’s goal from Jeff Jubinville (assisted by Kyle O’Kane) visibly took the wind out of the Thunder team for a while as Tulsa grabbed a resounding 3-0 lead.

The Thunder continued to press and at 13:11 on a powerplay Wichita’a Kirill Tulupov (with assists from Kenton Miller and Danick Gauthier) finally put the Thunder on the board with a wrister that just squeaked under Carr. Still riding the euphoria of their first goal of the night the Thunder quickly cut Tulsa’s lead even more as Ian Lowe scored 45 seconds later (with assists from Kurtis Bartliff and Dan Milan).

The third period was total Wichita Thunder. Confident and playing smart hockey, they continued to apply pressure to Tulsa’s offensive juggernauts, keeping them to only 4 shots during the period.  And at 16:41 Thunder’s Kenton Miller tied the game at 3-3 when he was able to get a loose puck past Kevin Carr (assisted by Todd Hosmer and Mike Wilson). By the end of regulation play the Wichita Thunder had outshot the Tulsa Oilers 45 to 21 for 3 periods.

Overtime was more of the same with Wichita’s dominance over Tulsa, but the Thunder were unable to beat Tulsa’s Kevin Carr who would continue to shutdown the Thunder even into the shootout for a Tulsa win, 4-3. Tulsa’s Pleskach and Caig were the only two shooters to score in the shootout.

Games such as this are exactly why I hate the shootout so much. No gimmicks should ever be allowed to decide a match such as this. And my sidenote to Coach McClelland — Thunder players should spend far more time practicing for these shootouts, and the addition of a top-notch sniper to the team would be very welcomed.

Tulsa wins 4-3 in the shootout.

Wichita Tulsa
# Shooter Score
14 – Stephen Schultz No
81 – Danick Gauthier No
18 – RG Flath No
21 – Todd Hosmer No
Score # Shooter
Yes 18 – Adam Pleskach
Yes 61 – T.J. Caig
No 27 – Jon Booras
No 26 – Kyle O’Kane
Totals: 0 2

StoneWolf Casino Cup Series: 3-1-0-0 Tulsa

  • Oct. 26: Wichita @ Tulsa — 5-6 in OT — Tulsa Win
  • Oct. 29: Tulsa @ Wichita — 0-2 — Wichita Win
  • Nov. 2: Wichita @ Tulsa — 2-3 in SO — Tulsa Win
  • Nov. 18: Wichita @ Tulsa — 3-4 in SO — Tulsa Win
  • Nov. 23: Wichita @ Tulsa
  • Nov. 30: Tulsa @ Wichita
  • Dec. 10: Wichita @ Tulsa
  • Dec. 17: Wichita @ Tulsa
  • Feb. 21: Tulsa @ Wichita
  • Mar. 13: Wichita @ Tulsa
  • Mar. 21: Tulsa @ Wichita
  • Mar. 29: Tulsa @ Wichita
  • Apr. 8: Tulsa @ Wichita
  • Apr. 10: Tulsa @ Wichita

The Tulsa Oilers face the Mallards in Quad City on Wednesday night at 7:05 p.m. and they will end their short road trip in Missouri on Friday at 7:05.

Wichita Thunder will host the Missouri Mavericks on Saturday at 7:05 p.m., and the Thunder and Oilers will meet up once again on Sunday afternoon at 4:05 p.m. in Tulsa.