Gates, Tesink, Jackson Each Net Pair as Oilers Bury Thunder, 7-2
A night after falling 3-1, the Tulsa Oilers left no doubt as to who was going to win this contest, peppering Wichita Thunder goalie Mitch Gillam with 50 shots in their 7-2 victory. Ryan Tesink, Robby Jackson, and Brent Gates each scored two goals, and Gates and J.J. Piccinich finished with three points each in the victory. The win moved Tulsa within two points of Wichita for fourth place in the Mountain Division standings.
The Tulsa Oilers were dominating play for much of the first period and that would help to put them on top with a little more than three minutes left in the first. Tulsa was able to keep the puck in the Thunder end for about 90 seconds. They were not able to create a great scoring chance until John Wesley passed the puck behind the net to Adam Pleskach. Pleskach fired a pass to Robby Jackson who was in the slot. Jackson blasted the one timer in for his fifth goal of the year.
Just before the period expired, Mitch Gillam absolutely robbed Dakota Joshua. J.J. Piccinich’s shot was saved by Gillam but the rebound came right to Joshua at the side of the net. He fired in the rebound, but the Thunder goalie made an unbelievable glove save to stop the shot just before the horn sounded.
The Oilers dominated the first, outshooting Wichita 18-5, and they would take control early in the second. That led to an opportunity where Tulsa had three incredible opportunities to extend their lead, but Gillam came up big each time.
After Danny Moynihan’s shot hit the crossbar, the puck came back to him. He fired a shot that Gillam made a great pad save on. The puck moved to his left, right to Moynihan, who took another shot that was saved. That got Gillam down onto his stomach, as the puck came to Mike McKee in front of the net. He had what appeared to be a wide-open net, but Gillam was able to slide himself over to make an unbelievable save on the rising shot.
Gillam was keeping his team in the game, but a great individual effort by Jackson would allow the Tulsa Oilers to extend their lead. Jackson took control of the puck in the corner, then raced toward the front of the net, making a nice move before sliding the puck between the Wichita goaltender’s legs for his sixth goal of the year.
The Thunder had an opportunity to cut that deficit in half when they went on the power play with a little over 10 minutes left in the second, but it would be the Oilers who would take advantage. Wichita was quite lackadaisical with the puck as the pass came out to the neutral zone. Charlie Sampair outworked the Thunder player for the puck, carrying it into the Wichita zone. He left the puck for Jared Thomas, who scooped it up, made a nice move to evade a Thunder defender before firing a wrist shot over Gillam’s shoulder. The short-handed goal was his first tally of the season.
The Oilers added to their lead when they received a big break. The Thunder were attempting to clear the puck, but it hit off the linesman, and right to an Oilers player. Piccinich brought the puck into the Wichita end, then fired a pass across the crease to Brent Gates, who buried the one-timer to make it 4-0.
The Thunder were being outplayed in every aspect of this contest, losing by four while being outshot 38-13 coming out of the second break. They tried to get a little momentum going in the final period and were finally able to get on the scoreboard at 3:16.
Patrik Parkkonen carried the puck down the wing and into the Tulsa end. He made a great move to get around an Oilers defender before making a perfect pass to Beau Starrett across the crease. Starrett buried the one-timer for his third goal of the year to cut the deficit to three.
Almost exactly 90 seconds later, the Oilers restored their lead when Ryan Tesink scored his third goal of the year. Three minutes later Wichita got back on the board. Stefan Fournier’s shot was saved as the rebound came back to Luke Shiplo. He fired a wrist shot through traffic that found the back of the net for his goal of the year.
The Thunder trailed by three, but they would get no closer. At 9:09 Gates added his second goal of the game and Tesink followed with his second tally of the night a little less than two minutes later.
Gates led the Oilers with two goals and an assist. Piccinich had three assists. Tesink and Jackson each had two goals. Tulsa goaltender Devin Williams made 19 saves. Despite giving up seven goals, Gillam played exceptionally well. He simply received no support.
The Wichita Thunder travel up I-35 to take on the Kansas City Mavericks on Monday. The opening faceoff is set for 6:05.
By Robert Pannier
Featured Image Courtesy of Wichita Thunder