The Oklahoma City Blazers saw the puck drop for the first time in the NA3HL era for the team on Friday night, as they played host to the Louisiana Drillers. After a summer of uncertainly, the Blazers returned to the ice at Arctic Edge for their first game of the 2020-21 season, looking to begin their NA3HL campaign on the right foot.
The 1st period began with both the Blazers and Drillers trading power play chances. The scoring was opened during the third penalty of the game as the Drillers had the man-advantage. With the puck on the right-wing side, Ben Cope gave the pass across the ice to the left-wing, finding Frank Steinway in the circle, and getting the first goal of the season to make it a 1-0 Drillers lead.
Oklahoma City bounced back late in the 1st, picking up a power play goal of their own as returning Blazers forward Noah Henslee moved into the Louisiana zone, sending his first shot off the crossbar, but picking up the rebound and putting it into the net to tie up the game at 1-1. It would only last for a minute however, as Ben Cope received the puck off a faceoff, stickhandled around a Blazers defender, and shot the puck past Blazers goaltender Matthew Genter, to put the Drillers back on top, 2-1 after one period.
Michael Onda kicked things off for the Blazers in the 2nd period, as he picked up the puck along the wall in the Drillers zone, skating in on net, and roofed a shot as he skated by the post to put the puck over Drillers goaltender Kyle Karoleski’s shoulder, and tied the score at 2-2. That score would again only last a minute, as the Drillers brought the puck into the Oklahoma City zone, cycling the puck around the net of Genter, and Louisiana’s Josh Hrip getting the last push into the net to put the Drillers back on top, 3-2, which remained the score heading into the 3rd.
OKC once again kicked off the scoring in the period, as both teams entered the 3rd, as Artem Korolev found the puck pinballing in the slot and slamming it past Karoleski, tying things up once again for the Blazers, this time at a 3-3 score. This time, it was Oklahoma City that would pick up the next goal as Artem Shura received the puck off of a faceoff, sending it to the net, and past Karoleski to put OKC up for their first lead of the game, 4-3.
The Blazers held on through the majority of the 3rd period, with Genter turning away multiple chances by the Drillers. Towards the end of the 3rd, the Blazers ended up going to the box, providing Louisiana with a power play, which then saw them pull their goaltender for the extra attacker, and a 6-on-4 skater situation. Oklahoma City was able to kill off the penalty, but with 24 seconds left, the Drillers tied things up at 4-4, with Josh Hrip scoring his second of the game to force overtime.
Both teams traded chances in the 3-on-3 overtime period to begin, but it would be Oklahoma City taking away the win in this one. Noah Henslee was unable to grab a stretch pass for a breakaway attempt, but picked it up off the boards and skated into the crease. Karoleski knocked it away, but it ended up on the stick of Tristan Warr, sending it home, and giving OKC the 5-4 win, and their first win in the NA3HL era.
Matthew Genter starts with a 1-0-0 record on the season, stopping 19 of 23 shots in the win. Kyle Karoleski begins the season with an 0-0-1 record, stopping 32 of OKC’s 37 shots.
Both teams return to the ice for game two of the three-game weekend series. Puck drops at 7:05p at Arctic Edge, visit okcityhockey.tix.com now for tickets!