The Oklahoma City Blazers were riding a six-game winning streak coming into this past weekend, sweeping their second series in a row against the Salt Lake City Moose on the road, and were riding high as they got set to take on the Cheyenne Stampede back at home. The weekend started extremely high for the Blazers, but a set-back brought them back down.
On Friday night, the Blazers welcomed the Cheyenne Stampede to the Blazers Ice Center for the first ever meeting between the two teams. With Filip Kostka in net, the Blazers were clicking on all points of their game while the Stampede were having trouble finding theirs.
After the first period on Friday, Oklahoma City jumped out to a 2-nothing lead with goals from Pavel Oxiouta and Tomas Nemeth while Kostka turned aside all seven shots from the Stampede.
In the second period, a huge save by Kostka where he had to dive back in front of the empty net after the puck took a weird bounce off the boards seemed to give a kickstart to the Blazers who then scored six goals in the second. A second goal by Nemeth, plus goals from Colton Nelson, Kirill Romanov, Tomas Rubes, Jared Guffey, and Dominik Taras gave OKC a 8-0 lead after two. Despite being a chippy period with roughing penalties galore, all six goals were scored at even strength.
The Blazers added a few more in the third period, including three straight goals shorthanded. Roderick van den Hout added the ninth goal at even strength, then Jiri Hajda and Colton Nelson added two more shorthanded. The final goal, scored by Lubos Vacek, came off a faceoff at center ice, was dumped in on goaltender Blade Roh, took a weird bounce and went in for the Blazers twelfth goal of the game. Fifteen players for the Blazers came away with points in the game as they beat the Stampede 12-0.
Saturday, the Blazers learned a valuable lesson in never sleeping on your opponent, regardless of how they played the night before. OKC jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead with Roderick van den Hout and Tomas Nemeth scoring just seconds apart in the first few minutes of the game. But with goaltender Braden Lajoie in net for OKC, the Blazers provided very little help for him in the first. With a breakdown in coverage, the Blazers gave up a breakaway to Lukas Slansky. Slansky drove in a went bar-down with the shot and gave Cheyenne their first goal of the weekend.
Minutes later in the first, Thayne Trumbull scored to tie the game up and the Stampede ended up taking their first lead of the weekend as well with a goal from Troy Beinhauer and Cheyenne held the 3-2 lead heading into the first intermission. Things got even harder for the Blazers in the second as Stampede goaltender Patrik Asenbrenner wouldn’t let anything get past him, but another goal Blake Bennett midway through the period put Cheyenne up by two after forty minutes.
The Blazers gave Asenbrenner a workout in the second and third periods, peppering the net with 35 total shots, but Asenbrenner only let one in with 1:39 remaining in the third period as Tomas Nemeth was able to force a puck into the net during a goal-mouth scramble. With the empty net, the Blazers were unable to get the game-tying goal and dropped the game 4-3 to the Stampede. Following the game, coach Tyler Fleck was visibly upset with the team’s performance and had the team run a skating session immediately after the game. Fleck was quoted postgame saying, “We were embarrassed in our own barn. I guess some guys thought they could just show up and we would win. Individuals don’t win games, teams do. I am very disappointed with the lack of focus and selfishness of some guys.”
The two teams were right back at it on Sunday afternoon with the Blazers looking for some redemption. With Filip Kostka back in net, it was a quiet first period with no goals, but 14 shots by the Blazers were turned away by Asenbrenner and seven shots from Cheyenne were turned away by Kostka.
The second period almost saw another scoreless frame but a cross-checking penalty from Thayne Trumbull gave OKC a power play chance in the final minutes of the period. Assisted by Kole Hudson, a goal by Drake Johnson gave the Blazers the 1-0 lead with just 1:14 remaining in the period.
A slashing penalty on Marek Charvat to begin the third period put OKC on the PK, but the Blazers kept up their shorthanded success and broke open a 2-0 lead with a goal from Johan Sorkin assisted by Hudson. The Stampede were unable to get anything past Kostka once again, and Oklahoma City got back on the winning track with the 2-0 win on Sunday.
Filip Kostka earned his third shutout of the season, improving 8-0-0 on the season with just a 1.25 GAA and a .948 saves percentage. Kostka is currently tied for first in the league in SV% by goaltenders who have played in 10 games or more. Tomas Nemeth leads the Blazers in points with 23 in twelve games.
The Blazers also added a new player in Denis Skokor, who made his debut on Saturday. Skokor began the season with MHC Martin of the Slovakian U20 league. Skokor had 11 points in 10 games played with MHC Martin.
The Blazers have next weekend off, but return to action on November 11th as they head up I-44 to take on the Tulsa Jr. Oilers for the first time this season. They return home to complete a four-games-in-five-nights set as they take on the Casper Coyotes in a three-game series.