The Oklahoma City Blazers returned home to the Blazers Ice Centre after splitting a weekend in Wichita, and suffering their largest loss of the season the night before in Tulsa against the Jr. Oilers. Friday night saw a rare pulling of goaltender Ole Nilson and an 8-3 loss at the hands of the Jr. Oilers. In game two of a home-and-home-and-home series, the Blazers looked to rebound and exact a little bit of revenge.
Coach Tyler Fleck showed his confidence in his goaltender and put Ole Nilson back in net to start on Saturday night. The first period was a back-and-forth affair as Tulsa matched every move that the Blazers made. Pavel Oxiouta opened the scoring for OKC at 4:05, and less than two minutes later it was Maxim Chegrintcev tying it up for Tulsa. Ivan Bondarenko put OKC back up 2-1 at the 9:43 mark. A big fight broke out between the Blazers Alex Yuk and Tulsa’s Taner Byrd, with both players landing big punches, but Yuk landed a few more to gain the edge over Byrd. Tulsa answered back on the scoresheet as Ivan Bukshevannyy made it a 2-2 game at 15:12, sending the game to the intermission with the tied score.
In the second period, the Blazers turned a corner and things began to click for the Oklahoma City team. 6:19 into the period, a great play by Jiri Hajda kept the puck in at the blue line during a Tulsa clearing attempt. Hajda then sent the puck towards the net and Tomas Rubes was there to pick up the rebound and scored to give OKC the 3-2 lead. Three minutes later, the Blazers found themselves on a power play. A shot from the point by Marek Charvat was blocked by the pads of Tulsa goaltender Philip Babb, but the juicy rebound went right to the stick of Kirill Romanov, who made sure it went in and put the Blazers up 4-2.
As play traveled to the Tulsa end of the ice, a check by Blazers defenseman Michal Beranek was called by the referee as an interference penalty. Blazers head coach Tyler Fleck, a seasoned defenseman himself, took exception to the call and was promptly thrown from the game by the referee. The Blazers Colton Nelson commented after the game how it’s great to have a coach that will stand up for his team and that it gave the team a boost after. That boost showed as the Blazers were able to kill the minor penalty and Kirill Romanov jumped off the bench, received a breakaway pass and scored his second in a row to make it a 5-2 OKC lead, the score after two periods of play.
The momentum kept rolling for the Blazers into the third period, and after just 1:09, a point shot from Michal Beranek made its way through traffic and into the net to make it 6-2, and just sixteen seconds later it was Tomas Nemeth putting it home to make it 7-2. Making it three goals in the span of sixty seconds, Denis Skokor found the puck sitting behind the goaltender Babb after it skittered through his legs and Skokor made it 8-2 with 17:51 to go and chasing the Tulsa goaltender.
Near the midway point of the period, it was Skokor again, but this time he showed off his stickhandling skills by working his way around a defender and laying a perfect pass to Marek Charvat in front of the goal. An easy tap-in by Charvat made it 9-2 with 12:35 left in the period. The Blazers kept the Jr. Oilers hemmed into their own zone for most of the remainder of the game, allowing only three shots to make their way to Ole Nilson – and five overall throughout the final forty minutes – and it was Kirill Romanov who came roaring in and made it a 10-2 game to pick up the hat trick and to close out the win for the Blazers.
Ole Nilson put the blame for Friday night on himself, but was happy to bounce back and get the chance to prove himself in net once again. He credited his team’s defense and offense for the win after the game, “When you have guys that score ten goals a night, it’s nice to win a game.”
Kirill Romanov scored his second hat trick with the Oklahoma City Blazers, thanking his team and even thanking equipment manager Kacee Coberly as well for the help in scoring the hat trick. Romanov felt the loss helped the team bond a little bit and helped the team come together for the win, and that it will continue into their rubber game against the Oilers on Sunday.
The Blazers take on the Oilers at 3:15 this afternoon, looking to take the weekend series from Tulsa and keep the momentum going as they take on the Dallas Snipers next weekend.