TOLEDO, Ohio – The Toledo Walleye were unable to secure their first Kelly Cup Finals appearance on Monday in front a sold-out crowd of 7,542 at the Huntington Center, as the Tulsa Oilers scored twice in the final 6:47 of regulation to escape with a 4-2 victory and knot the Western Conference Finals at three games apiece.
Ben Storm potted a shorthanded goal 52 seconds into the second period, before Ryan Obuchowski sniped a wrist shot into the top right corner 1:05 later to erase a two-goal, first-period deficit. However, despite failing to score on a two-man advantage lasting 58 seconds later in the middle stanza, the Oilers eventually reclaimed the lead when Charlie Sampair was credited his second game-winning goal of the series at the 13:13 mark of the third, while Alex Dostie added an empty-netter with 29.8 seconds on the clock.
The result means the Walleye will travel to Tulsa for a decisive Game 7 on Wednesday for the right to battle the Newfoundland Growlers in the Kelly Cup Finals. Puck drop from the BOK Center is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. EDT.
Tulsa stunned the home crowd by tallying two goals within the opening six minutes of play. After taking a pass from Scott Moldenhauer at the right half-wall, Mike McKee’s wrist shot from between the outer hash marks of the right circle was redirected inside the left post by Scott Henegar at the 4:07 mark.
The Oilers added to their lead 1:38 later, as Adam Pleskach picked Kevin Tansey’s pocket in the right corner and centered the puck to Stephen Perfetto at the right circle for a wrist shot just inside the far post.
Down by two goals and one man to begin the second stanza, the Walleye managed to cut their deficit in half with a shorthanded goal 52 seconds in. A.J. Jenks gained the zone on the right wing and drove the net on his backhand for a centering pass that pinballed off Ian Keserich and Tansey before reaching Storm, who lifted the loose change over a sprawling Tulsa netminder.
Barely a minute later, the hosts restored parity as Obuchowski took a pass from Greg Wolfe at the left point and skated down to the near circle, where he ripped a wrister through a screen and into the top right corner at 1:57.
The Walleye generated several chances to begin the third – including a Bryan Moore breakaway attempt that bounced off the glove of Keserich and trickled wide 25 seconds into the frame – but were never able to grab the lead. Then with 6:47 remaining in regulation, the Oilers jumped back in front when Eric Drapluk’s slapshot from the right point was deflected in the slot by Sampair and between Pat Nagle’s pads. Toledo yanked Nagle for the extra attacker with fewer than two minutes to play, but Dostie used an empty-net goal to put the game beyond any doubt with just under 30 seconds left.
Tulsa finished 0-for-3 on the man advantage, while the Walleye could not score on their lone power play chance. Keserich turned away 29-of-31 shots to pick up his first win of the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs presented by Smile Direct Club, as Nagle stopped 25-of-29 in defeat.
1. Tulsa – Ian Keserich (W, 29 saves)
2. Tulsa – Charlie Sampair (game-winning goal, assist)
3. Toledo – Ben Storm (shorthanded goal)