Matt Lane Delivers Game-Winner in OT, Tulsa Wins, 3-2
Matt Lane scored 1:55 into overtime to give the Tulsa Oilers a 3-2 victory over the Wichita Thunder on Friday evening. That ruined another great start from Evan Weninger, who stopped 46 of 49 shots he faced. Brent Gates netted two goals for the Oilers and Roman Durny stopped 19 of 21 shots to earn the victory.
After a scoreless first period, Tulsa came out in the second and dominated play, outshooting Wichita 23-6. After fighting majors were assessed against Jacob Graves and Alex Kromm 3:11 into the period, the Oilers seemed energized, completely controlling the puck in the Thunder end. That gave them several good scoring chances including at the 5:13 mark when Danny Moynihan fired a shot that Weninger knocked down, but the rebound came right to Garrett Cockerill, who tried to stuff the puck to the far post, but the Wichita netminder was able to quickly slide over and deny the chance.
After Garrett Schmitz was called for slashing at 14:01, the Oilers power play peppered Weninger, firing seven shots on net with the man-advantage. Weninger came up with a number of big saves, including at 15:16 when the puck came to Lane, who whizzed a wrist shot that the Thunder goaltender saved. The puck came right to Adam Pleskach on the doorstep. He tried to go up high with the rebound, but Weninger knocked it down with his blocker. The puck came right back to Pleskach who tried to stuff it in, but the Wichita netminder was having none of it, making a great leg save before covering up the puck.
Finally, at 19:41, the Oilers were able to get one past the Great Wall of Weninger. Justin Taylor gained control of a loose puck near the Thunder net. He moved toward the boards before turning to fire a pass into the slot that came right to Lane. He simply redirected the puck past Weninger for his fourth goal of the year.
The Thunder were being dominated, but they grabbed the lead less than six minutes into the third. At 3:29, Schmitz tied the score. Graves grabbed the loose puck along the boards, dishing it the front of the net to Schmitz who simply tipped the puck by Durny for his second goal of the year.
Almost exactly two minutes later, the Thunder took the lead thanks to a perfect setup. Dean Stewart carried the puck into the Tulsa end on a 3-on-1 break. He passed it back to John Albert who dished it across the slot to Patrik Parkkonen on the right side of the net. Parkkonen made a perfect one-touch pass back to Stewart who redirected the puck past the Tulsa netminder for his first goal of the season.
The Thunder clung to the one-goal lead for the next 10 minutes but Tulsa tied the score at 15:13. Alex Brooks passed the puck to Gates near the blueline. He moved down the slot, weaving between two Wichita defenders before firing a wrist shot that beat Weninger up high for his second goal of the game.
That sent the game to overtime where Lane would win it. At 1:55, the puck was loose in the neutral zone. Lane outraced two Thunder players for the puck, then moved in on Weninger on a breakaway. He fired a shot that crept by the Wichita netminder and in for his first goal since joining the Oilers.
The 3-2 loss still earned Wichita a point. They are now 13-5-2 (28 points). The Thunder have a .700 winning percentage, putting them ahead of the Allen Americans for the top spot in the Western Conference.
The Thunder remain on the road tomorrow night in Tulsa to face the Oilers at 7:05 p.m. Wichita returns home this Sunday, February 21 to host Kansas City at 4:05 p.m.
By Robert Pannier