TULSA, Okla. – January may have ended in bitter disappointment for the Tulsa Oilers but February began in much more promising fashion. Saturday night at the BOK Center, Tulsa netminder Brad Fogal made 36 saves and the Oilers ended a six-game winless streak with a convincing 4-1 victory over the Denver Cutthroats. Tulsa tasted triumph for the first time in five meetings against Denver and earned two points on home ice for the first time in nearly three weeks.
Rookie forward Adam Pleskach jammed home a rebound in front of the Denver net just 1:44 into the first period to give the Oilers the early edge. Pleskach, who leads the Oilers and all CHL rookies with 26 goals, extended his goal streak to three games. The Cutthroats responded quickly thanks to a 6-on-5 advantage. With a delayed penalty about to be called on Tulsa, Robin Soudek snapped a shot through the legs of Fogal to even the contest at 1-1 at the 3:24 mark of the opening frame. Eight minutes into the period, Blair Macaulay put the Oilers back in front for good. The rookie winger curled off the boards and popped the puck over the blocker shoulder of Denver goalie Kent Patterson for his eighth goal of the season to give the home side a 2-1 lead. At 16:09 Macaulay received a pass from Michel Beausoleil in front of the Cutthroats cage and a quick flick of the wrist pushed the Oilers advantage to 3-1. Tulsa, which had failed to reach the three-goal plateau in five previous meetings with the Cutthroats, scored three goals on nine first period shots.
No goals were scored in the second period, but the middle frame was not without fireworks. Near the halfway point of the game, former Oiler and Cutthroats tough guy, Daniel Amesbury came charging out of the penalty box and leveled Macaulay in the Tulsa zone. Oilers heavyweight Craig Cescon immediately jumped to the defense of his teammate and the result was one of the most entertaining bouts of the CHL season. Cescon landed a series of powerful right hands while Amesbury fired back with furious punches and the tilt was finally halted as both players crashed to the ice.
The Oilers surrendered a third period lead on Friday night in Quad City, but their advantage over the Cutthroats only grew larger in Saturday’s final 20 minutes. Off a 4-on-2 rush, Beausoleil swept the puck through Patterson to give the Oilers a three-goal cushion with4:56 gone by in the third. Fogal, making his second straight start in the Tulsa net, turned aside 15 third period shots to earn his first victory as an Oiler.
Denver entered the game with the CHL’s most potent power play (22.7-percent) but the Tulsa penalty kill successfully eliminated all five of the Cutthroats power play chances. The Oilers tied a season-low by firing just 20 shots on goal but were still able to post their highest offensive output in the last six outings. Forward Matt Ambroz, waived by Denver on Friday, made his Oilers debut while defenseman Jake Obermeyer was placed on the 14-day IR.
With the crucial two points, Tulsa remains tied with Arizona for eighth place in the CHL standings. The Oilers will enjoy a week off before returning to home ice on Saturday, February 8 to face off against Wichita.
With Tulsa Oilers team release
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