In the first 10 minutes of the Oilers win over the Rapid City Rush Friday, Tulsa outshot the home team 9-2 at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
That would prove to be all the Oilers needed.
Tulsa scored three first period goals and topped Rapid City going away, 5-1.
“We got off to a bad start in the first period,” Rush coach Daniel Tetrault said. “Half of our guys are sick and you can tell, our energy levels aren’t up.”
Tetrault said that most of his team is dealing with some sort of sickness. His two goalies are included there, as Tyler Parks has walking pneumonia and Adam Carlson is dealing with flu symptoms as well.
“We’ve been playing shorthanded and now the virus has moved through the team,” he said. “You still have to find a way to win, it’s not an excuse.”
The first 10 minutes didn’t see any goals scored, but Tulsa had a big shots advantage. With 9:21 to play, the Oilers finally broke through.
Ian McNulty scored first on an assist from Adam Philips, and then just over a minute later it was Tommy Mele finding the back of the net with an assist from Steve Kaunisto.
The Oilers caught Rush goaltender Tyler Parks napping at the end of the first period. With 43.4 seconds to go, Parks went out of his crease to get the puck, but had it stolen by Alex Kromm who buried it in a empty net.
After 20 minutes, Tulsa led 3-0.
“We still have to find a way to not have a bad first period,” Tetrault said.
Stephen Perfetto scored for the Oilers with just over four minutes to play in the period on assists from Sam Wilbur and Dylan Bredo.
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Just 1:30 after that, McNulty scored his second goal of the night on assists from Ryan Tesink and Chris Forney.
The Rush were able to get on the board at the beginning of the first period. Pierre-Luc Mercier was able to get the puck past Tulsa goalie Devin Williams.
Josh Elmes and Riley Weselowski assisted on the goal.
Tetrault said he was happy to win the third period, and hopes that can give his team confidence heading into Saturday’s matchup.
“You can tell they’re very fatigued,” Tetrault said of his team, saying he was going to make morning skate optional Saturday just so more players could get rest. “You don’t want to use excuses but I can tell. Half the guys are battling sickness. That’s not fun, and you can tell by the energy levels but we have to find a way.”
Rapid City is 15-19-2-3 on the season with 35 points, while Tulsa improves to 20-12-4-2 on the season with 46 points.
The loss is Rapid City’s seventh in its last eight games, and although Tetrault said he was frustrated, he knows he hasn’t had his full team for awhile.
“We’ve been playing shorthanded before tonight,” he said. “It started (the virus) with (Michael) Turner and now it’s carried through the whole team. It’s not fun, and you can tell but we have to find a way.”
Parks ended with 24 saves while Williams had 22. Tulsa outshot Rapid City 29-23, including 11-5 in the second period.
Both teams play again Saturday at 7 p.m. Before the game, the Rushmore Thunder boys’ varsity and junior varsity will take the ice at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center to take on the Watertown Lakers.
The junior varsity team will play at noon while the varsity will take the ice at 2 p.m. The event is part of with Hockey Day in South Dakota.