In front of a near-record breaking crowd, the St. Charles Chill entered Saturday night’s game against the Tulsa Oilers with a 10-37-6 record, already being completely out of the playoff race. As for the Oilers, the chances still loom as they entered the game 28-23-3. Unfortunately, despite having a strong lead early on, St. Charles fell to Tulsa 4-2.
In the first period, Tulsa charged early, trying to take advantage of defensive mismatches. But Chill goalie Robert Moss was up for the challenge, and strong early defense provided just enough support to hold back the Oilers early on.
At 14:31 in the first, Chill forward Kyle OKane launched a shot past Oilers’ goalie Shane Madolora to give St. Charles a 1-0 lead. OKane was assisted by Zack Josepher and Nicklas Lindberg.
But the Chill’s offensive power didn’t stop there. With 6:54 left in the 1st period, Martin Hilinka fired a shot past Madolora to give the Chill a 2-0 lead.
Backed by a strong defense, Moss and the Chill would have their 2-0 lead remain at the end the first period.
As the 2nd period began, the physicality levels of both teams increased as Tulsa tried to come back.
And at the 10:18 mark in the 2nd period, that’s exactly what started to occur. Tulsa forward Ryan Menei was able to slide a shot right through Moss to cut St. Charles’ lead to one goal.
Just four minutes later, at the 6:18 mark, Kyle Bochek netted the tying goal past Moss. And just like that, the 2-0 lead the Chill once had was gone, a familiar issue the Chill have endured throughout the season: blowing leads.
When the third period started, a massive ovation for the Chill took place in the Family Arena, as the crowd tried to rally behind their team as they attempted to regain the lead. The defense that helped out Moss earlier in the game was virtually non-existent, as Moss fought off constant pressure from the Oilers. But he soon became overwhelmed.
In a span of two minutes in the second half of the third period, the Oilers scored two goals, the first one by Blair Macaulay all by himself (he launched one right past Moss on the side of the net), and the second one by Menei once again (his second of the night), this time on a power play.
As the clock winded down, and the crowd drew silent, it was safe to say: the Chill had a good lead once again slip out of their hands.
The Chill wound up losing 4-2 and dropped to a dismal 10-38-6 record, while Tulsa now boasts a 29-23-3 record.
St. Charles has a lot of potential, and they have talent on all fronts. But closing out games has been their shortcoming, and it’s cost them countless games. And it’s something that needs to change.
(Photo credit: Mick Lite)