You can’t blame Wichita Thunder goalie Drew Oswley for savoring Saturday night’s victory a little more than the rest of his teammates. The Thunder entered the contest against the Tulsa Oilers losers of four in a row and had won just once in their last 18 games, but no one was feeling that more than Owsley, who had lost seven in a row despite posting a respectable 3.41 goals against average this season. Saturday night, the goalie came up huge, making 39-saves plus three more in the shootout, and Gabriel Gagne delivered the game winner in the shootout to give Wichita the 3-2 victory.
The Thunder had lost eight-straight to the Oilers, and it looked like Tulsa would take the lead at the 12:52 mark. With Drew Owsley down on his butt near the left side of the net, the Oilers had a shot at getting a goal, but the Wichita netminder made a huge kick save and finally pounced on the puck while seated to stop play.
Five minutes later his team would take the lead. While on the power-play, Landon Oslanski swung the puck along the blue line to Gabriel Gagne. He blasted a slap shot that found the back of the net and the Thunder were up 1-0. That was Gagne’s sixth goal of the season.
The second period would see neither team able to score, but the Oilers had their chances, especially in the first minute of the period. Adam Pleshack entered the Thunder end on a breakaway, but Owsley followed the play perfectly and made a great save to keep his team on top, 1-0.
Into the third the game went with the Thunder clinging to the lead. Less than a minute into the period it looked like Tulsa would tie the score, but Owsley came up huge again. With the Oilers on the power-play, a perfect pass was made to Darcy Murphy, who was standing alone at the corner of the net. He redirected the puck onto the goal, but Owsley made a great kick save.
However, thirty seconds later Tulsa would get the equalizer. Tyson Wilson swept into the Thunder zone down the boards and began to move toward the Wichita goal. He then passed to Dylan Hubbs who put the puck in for his first goal of the season.
The game took on a playoff atmosphere after that, and at the 16:04 mark Matt DeBlouw gave Wichita back the lead. With forwards Louick Marcotte and Blake Tatchell putting a lot of pressure on the forecheck, DeBlouw managed to gain control of the puck near the boards. He then swept in front of the net and put a back-hander by Colin Stevens to put the Thunder back on top. The goal was DeBlouw’s team leading 13th of the season.
The lead would not last long, as one minute later the Oilers would tie the score again. Dennis Brown had the puck at the point and fired a shot through a crowd that found the far side of the net to tie the game. That was Brown’s second of the season.
Into overtime the game went, and when Maxime St-Cyr took a double minor for a high stick it looked like the Oilers would have their chance to get the victory. However, Owsley was unreal, stopping all six shots he faced in the overtime period and sending the game to a shootout.
The first two shooters for Tulsa missed wide to the right, but on the first opportunity for the Thunder, Gagne made a great move and put the puck between Stevens legs to give his team a 1-0 lead. On the last shooter for Tulsa, Shawn Bates slowed way down trying to find an opening, but Owsley was having none of it, pushing the puck away to clinch the victory.
Drew Owsley finished with 39 saves in the game. Gabriel Gagne has a goal and added the game winning goal in the shootout.
The Wichita Thunder head to the road for a two-game series in Greenville that starts Tuesday night. The puck is scheduled to drop at 5 pm local time.
By Robert Pannier