Oilers break five-game skid

TULSA, Okla. – The Tulsa Oilers, who are nearly one-third of the way through the 2012-13 CHL season, have found the cards stacked against them in recent weeks. After opening with a decent 6-5-1 mark, Tulsa stumbled through a rough five-game losing streak, during which they encountered injuries and struggled to right their ship. Couple that with their 0-4 record against the league-leading Allen Americans, and it would be safe to say that many figured another loss was in store for the Oilers on Friday night at the BOK Center. Oilers bench boss Bruce Ramsay, however, has been working hard to get things turned around for his team. A recent acquisition and a key player returning from injury would help Tulsa get over the hump, as they picked up a 5-4 win over Allen after overcoming an early 3-0 deficit against the league’s best team. The Oilers scored four unanswered second-period goals to give the squad new life, before Ben Gordon netted the would-be game-winner mid-way through the final stanza.

Ben Gordon

Ben Gordon

“I’m sure there wasn’t a lot of people there that were betting on us coming back and winning that hockey game,” Ramsay said. “It was a great team victory and those are things that you build character off of, and that’s what we’re trying to do right now,” Ramsay added. Recent pick-up Mike Garman played a big role in the squad’s win, after shaking off some early rust to deny all 10 Americans shots in the final frame. The 6′ 2″ 200-pound goaltender stopped 32-shots on the night in his return to Tulsa. Garman spent two months with the Oilers last season, posting a 2-4-2 record and a .907 save-percentage before leaving for Europe. “It was really disappointing, he had a great opportunity to go to Europe and decided to leave. I think he would have been a big help for us last year throughout the season if he would have stayed, it probably would have been a big difference between us being in the playoffs and not,” Ramsay said. Perhaps what was even more impressive about Garman’s night, was that he has not played since last season, and turned in the effort while still getting to know his teammates.
Oiler goalie Mike Garman at the ready

Oiler goalie Mike Garman at the ready

“He’s only had one practice with us and a pre-game skate. For him to come in and put in that kind of performance under the circumstances was awesome and I think he’s just going to get better and better as time goes on,” Ramsay said. Returning to the lineup after spending seven days on the injured reserve list with an upper-body injury was forward Troy Ofukany. He responded with an assist on Sean Erickson’s game-tying second-period goal. “He’s probably our toughest player, he’s physical and will drop the gloves when he has to but he’s got that type of injury that you’ve got to be careful with. He just needs to get a little more confidence…but he got better as the night went on,” Ramsay said. Ramsay also pointed to the play of linemates Ben Gordon, Ryan Menei, and Mike Ullrich who combined to score two goals and notch an assist. “They had some good opportunities tonight and scored a couple of big goals for us, none bigger than the game-winning goal in the third period,” he said. Ramsay described Gordon as an elite player who has yet to show his full potential. So is this win over the Americans – a team that had previously outscored the Oilers 19-9, something that will spark the Oilers to move out of the basement and back into contention? According to Ramsay, there is still a lot of work to be done, but anything is possible. “We’ll enjoy this win for a while, but tomorrow is a new day and one win isn’t a season, we need a lot more so we’ve got to continue to press and put up points. Sometimes there are certain points in the season were things kick in and its that certain game that turns things around and I think this is one of those games,” Ramsay said. The Oilers will face-off with the Fort Worth Brahmas tonight in Fort Worth, Texas before returning home for a 4 pm matinee with the Arizona Sundogs on Sunday. Contact the writer at john.hall@prohockeynews.com Contact the photographer at les.stockton@prohockeynews.com Follow us on Twitter @prohockeynews

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