There was an ECHL record crowd in Tulsa Friday night, as 16,759 people packed the BOK center for the team’s contest against the Wichita Thunder. The crowd was into the game from the very start, especially after Dennis Brown gave his team a 1-0 in the second, however, two goals by Ryan Rupert and stellar goaltending by Drew Owsley led the Thunder to a 4-1 victory.
After a scoreless first period in which Drew Owsley made 13-saves, Brown staked the Oilers to a 1-0 lead 3:57 into the second period. While on the power-play, Wes Cunningham passed to Brown at the point who fired a slap shot passed Owsley to stake his team to the early lead.
Five minutes later Ryan Rupert tied the score. With the Thunder on the man-advantage, Wichita moved the puck around before Rupert scored his seventh goal of the season.
With a little less than five minutes left in the period the Thunder would take the lead with their second power-play goal of the game. Zach O’Brien, who assisted on the earlier goal, passed to Louick Marcotte in the slot. He blasted a one-timer past P.J. Musico for his team leading 16th goal of the year.
While the two goals staked Wichita to the lead, it was Owsley that was the difference maker in the first two periods. After stopping 13-shots in the first, he would add 14 more saves in the second period. That included five straight saves to end the first period.
In the third, Wichita would put the game away. With 2:03 left in the game, Ryan Rupert came off the bench during a Thunder rush and received a pass in the Oilers zone. He fired a shot that Musico saved, but Rupert put in his own rebound to make it 3-1.
The Oilers pulled their goalie, but Blake Tatchell put in the empty-netter 19 seconds after the Rupert goal. That was Tatchell’s 11th goal of the year and sealed the victory, 4-1.
Drew Owsley saved 11 more shots in the third period. He finished with 36-saves for the Wichita Thunder. Ryan Rupert added 2-goals in the win and Chris LeBlanc added 2-assists in his first game in a Thunder uniform. Zach O’Brien also had 2-assists for Wichita. P.J. Musico had 24-saves for the Oilers.
The Wichita Thunder return home for a 7:05 game against the Missouri Mavericks Saturday night.
By Robert Pannier