Oilers Outlast Thunder For Season Opening Win
WICHITA, KS – Bruce Ramsay doesn’t lose season openers. The Tulsa Oilers Head Coach watched his squad earn a hard fought 4-3 win over the Wichita Thunder on Friday to push his season opener record to a perfect 4-0 as Tulsa’s bench boss.
Originally scheduled to open the season on Saturday night in Wichita, the Oilers were called upon to fill in for the Quad City Mallards who were supposed to be the Thunder’s opening night opponent. Unfortunate circumstances surrounding the Quad City franchise led the CHL to replace the Mallards with the Oilers who were more than willing to spoil Wichita’s evening and send 5,382 Thunder fans home unhappy.
Despite only seven shots on goal in the opening period, the visitors jumped out to an early 2-0 lead thanks to tallies from second line forwards Michel Beausoleil and Gary Steffes.
Early in the middle frame, with the Oilers on a two-man advantage, the Tulsa lead swelled to 3-0 when newly acquired left-winger Ben Gordon tucked a shot underneath the crossbar off a gorgeous feed from David Alexandre Beauregard. The Thunder responded quickly with a goal from Matt Tassone but the Oilers took a comfortable two-goal cushion into the the third period.
At the 7:09 mark of the third, Matt Summers, Wichita’s leading scorer from a year ago, re-directed David Inman’s shot past Tulsa’s rookie goaltender, Dan Bakala, to cut the Oilers lead to a single goal at 3-2. Tulsa picked up a much needed insurance marker at 16:41 when second year forward Ryan Cramer buried a rebound past Thunder netminder Kevin Regan. With Wichita pulling back within one just 19 seconds later, Cramer’s goal turned out to be the game winner. Bakala made several outstanding saves over the final three minutes and the Oilers survived a brief 6-on-4 Wichita advantage to preserve the victory.
Tulsa, which had been 0-4-1 in it’s last five trips to Intrust Bank Arena, snapped an 11-game road losing streak dating back to January 27, 2012.
Bakala turned aside 25 of the 28 shots he faced to earn his first professional victory while Steffes and Beauregard each finished the contest with two points to lead the Oilers offensive effort.
Tulsa and Wichita will square off again at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday night.