Ben Murphy Crushes Thunder’s Comeback Hopes; Oilers Win, 4-2
Two early second period goals by the Tulsa Oilers put the Wichita Thunder in jeopardy of losing their fourth straight game, but the team showed a lot of grit in battling back to tie the game with about eight minutes left in regulation. However, Ben Murphy dashed those hopes when he scored with a little under three minutes left in the contest and the Oilers would be the winners, 4-2.
The two teams battled through a scoreless first period, as Tulsa outshot Wichita 9-7. Both teams had their chances to take the lead, but both Scott Greenham and Colin Stevens made some great saves early on to keep the game tied at zero.
The start of the second period would be an entirely different story. At the one-minute mark, Phil Brewer took the puck away from the Wichita defenseman who was unable to clear the puck out of his zone. Brewer then moved in front of the goal and fired a wrist shot over Greenham’s shoulder and into the net to make it 1-0.
Less than a minute later Jessey Astles outraced the Thunder defenseman to the puck about 10 feet from the Wichita net. Astles tipped in the puck for his first goal of the season and it quickly became a 2-0 game.
It would stay that way for about nine minutes when the Thunder would finally get on the board. With the team on the power-play, Landon Oslanski fired on goal, but his shot was redirected to the side of the net. Alexis Loiseau came out from behind the net to the side and opted to fire a bad angle shot. The puck hit off of Stevens and into the goal for his 12th of the season and it was 2-1.
That is how the second period would end thanks to a huge save by the Thunder goalie at the 15:30 mark. On the power-play, Murphy made a pass to Danick Gauthier on a great 2-1 break that Gauthier tipped on net. It looked it would be a sure goal, but Greenham made an acrobatic save to keep it a one-goal Tulsa lead.
In the third, the Oilers would dominate play again, peppering Greenham with 17-shots in the period, but it would be the Thunder who would get the equalizer. At 12:01 of the third, Macoy Erkamps passed the puck across the slot to James Melindy, who fired a wrist shot over the shoulder of Stevens for his first goal of the season. It was the second power-play goal of the game for Wichita.
INTRUST Bank Arena erupted as the crowd was into the game, but their enthusiasm would be crushed a little over five minutes later. The Thunder had control in the Tulsa end and had a great scoring chance, but a save by Stevens deflected out and Gauthier sent Brewer down on a 2 on 1 with Murphy. At the last second he passed across the slot to Murphy, who simply redirected the puck into the net to make it 3-2. Adam Pleskach would add an empty-net goal with 29-seconds left in the contest to give the final of 4-2.
With the loss the Wichita Thunder dropped their fourth straight game. Brewer had a goal and 2-assists for the Tulsa Oilers.
These two teams will meet again Saturday night, but the venue will change, as Tulsa will host the game. The puck drops at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier