Williams Dazzles as Oilers Silence Thunder, 3-0
Devin Williams may not have started the season as the No. 1 goaltender for the Tulsa Oilers, but he showed the Wichita Thunder that he is a force to be reckoned with, stopping all 31 shots on Friday as Tulsa defeated Wichita, 3-0. Two second period goals were more than enough for Williams, who moved to 9-11-4 with the shutout victory. The loss dropped the Thunder to 29-14-5 (.656), four points ahead of the Allen Americans for second place in the Western Conference.
It was a great goaltending battle between Williams and Thunder goaltender Evan Buitenhuis, as the contest entered the first break scoreless. Tulsa outshot Wichita 13-11 to the first and continued to put the pressure on in the second, which helped them to jump out to a 2-0 lead.
The first goal came 8:26 in the period. Alan Lyszczarczyk fired a shot from just inside the left face-off circle that Buitenhuis saved, but the rebound came to Gregg Burmaster, who fired the shot on net that the Wichita netminder was able to save once again. However, the rebound came right back to Burmaster, who turned and fired a backhander in for his eighth goal of the year.
Almost exactly 10 minutes later, the Oilers extended their lead to two on a controversial goal. Lyszczarczyk fired a shot that Buitenhuis saved, but a mad scramble ensued for the rebound. It looked as if Justin Taylor was obstructing Buitenhuis, which allowed Alex Kromm to knock in the loose puck for his first goal of the year. After reviewing the play, the referee ruled that Wichita defenseman Sean Allen had knocked Taylor into Buitenhuis, giving Tulsa a 2-0 lead.
Williams did not face many great scoring chances for Wichita, but he continued to shine throughout the contest, making a number of saves that kept the Thunder off the scoreboard. Wichita was trying everything they could to get one past the Tulsa goaltender to get back into the game, even pulling Buitenhuis with about 90 seconds left in the contest, but Taylor sealed it with an empty net goal with 74 seconds left in the contest to secure the 3-0 victory.
Williams finished with 31 saves, earning his third shutout of the season. He lowered his goals-against average to 2.42. Lyszczarczyk had two assists to lead the Tulsa offense. Despite taking the loss, Buitehuis was solid, stopping 35 of 37 shots. The loss snapped his personal six-game winning streak.
Wichita returns home on Saturday to take on the Oilers once again, hoping that a little home cooking will help to get them out of their scoring rut. The team has just two goals in their last three games. The puck drops at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier