Less than 24 hours after recording his first professional hat-trick, Blair Macaulay capped off one of his most memorable nights as a hockey player with a shootout game-winning goal that gave the Tulsa Oilers a much-needed 4-3 victory over the rival Wichita Thunder. Tulsa snapped its four-game losing streak and earned a critical pair of points to stay six points ahead of the Thunder in the race for the playoffs.
The contest began on an all-too-familiar note for the Oilers as they fell behind 2-0 after the first period. For the sixth consecutive game, Tulsa trailed after the opening 20 minutes
and for the fifth time in the last six games, the Oilers failed to score a first period goal.
Wichita's lead swelled to 3-0 at the 13:35 mark of the second period when Jon Booras cashed in on a shorthanded breakaway. After blocking Nathan Lutz' slap shot, Booras scooted past Lutz and deked his way past Tulsa goalie Shane Madolora before tucking a backhand inside the post for his 17th goal of the season. For a second straight night, the Oilers found themselves facing a three-goal deficit. Tulsa's comeback bid began just 24 seconds after the Booras tally when Macaulay re-directed Jarred Mohr's shot through the legs of Taylor Nelson to put the home side on the scoreboard.
At 9:46 of the third, Tulsa captain Nathan Lutz finished off a lengthy saucer pass from Ryan Menei by chipping the puck over Nelson's shoulder to cut the deficit to a single goal. Lutz found the back of the net for the second time in as many nights and gave the Oilers renewed hope. Three minutes after Lutz lit the lamp, Macaulay tracked down a loose puck along the right-wing of the Thunder zone and blindly batted a backhand to the waiting stick of Michel Beausoleil. The Oilers veteran winger seized the opportunity by blasting a one-timer through Nelson for the game-tying goal at 13:11.
Nothing was solved through the final minutes of regulation or five minutes of overtime and the Oilers found themselves in a shootout for the first time since late January. Menei and Drew Fisher were able to beat Nelson while Ian Lowe and R.G. Flath found the net for the Thunder. The Oilers fifth shooter was Macaulay who moved in on Nelson with a chance to win the game. Before Nelson could set himself, the Tulsa rookie snapped the puck through his five-hole as the Oilers bench erupted in a mixture of relief and elation. Macaulay's three-point night (2 goals, 1 assist) was his 11th multi-point game of the season and pushed the Oilers past the Arizona Sundogs back into sole possession of seventh place in the standings.
Tulsa improved to 3-3 in shootouts this season and 7-4-1 overall against the Thunder. The win clinches at least a share of the StoneWolf Casino Cup for the Oilers who can claim the Cup outright with a victory over Wichita next Friday.