Blaze defenseman Jesse Dudas helps collect stuffed animals thrown onto the ice during the annual Teddy Bear Toss to benefit McLean County Toys for Tots on Friday, December 14, 2012 at U.S. Cellular Coliseum. (Photo by Jacob Blome)
By Greg Halbleib
BLOOMINGTON - The Bloomington Blaze were led by a hat trick from Jared Walker in a 6-3 win over the Tulsa Oilers on Friday night at U.S. Cellular Coliseum.
The Oilers scored first on a deflection by David Beauregard of a drive from the slot by Sean Erickson, also assisted by Jeff Buvinow just 7:54 into the game. The Blaze evened the contest just 25 seconds later when Walker poked in a rebound of a drive by Matthew Larke also assisted by Ryan Palmer.
Walker scored in the first minute of the second period on a short rebound during a flurry to give the Blaze a 2-1 lead, with assists given to Larke and Tysen Dowzak, and 57 seconds later with 18:15 left in the middle period, the Blaze pushed the lead to 3-1 when Sebastien Trudeau won a fight behind the net and centered to Kyle Bochek, who blasted his third goal of the season from the deep slot. Aaron Dawson flung a wrister from the left point into the back of the net on a power play with 10:21 remaining in the second period, assisted by Bochek and Travis Granbois, to increase the Blaze lead to 4-1.
The Oilers cut the deficit to 4-3 with a pair of quick goals in the third period. With 13:45 remaining in regulation, Mike Ullrich scored on a drive to the net assisted by Ryan Cramer, and just 1:16 later Ben Gordon connected on assists from Gary Steffes and Sean Erickson. The Blaze pushed the lead back to 5-3 just 57 seconds later when Bochek grabbed the puck in the Tulsa zone and pushed in a wraparound at the right post for his second goal of the night. The Blaze killed a 5-on-3 power play plus an extra attacker and sealed the game when Walker completed his hat trick with an empty net goal.
Pier-Olivier Pelletier earned the win in goal with 42 saves while Ian Keserich suffered the loss with 36 saves. The Blaze were 1-for-3 on the power play while the Oilers did not convert any of five chances.
The game was the annual Teddy Bear Toss night as fans sent 750 stuffed animals onto the ice to benefit McLean County Toys for Tots.
The Blaze play a home-and-home set against the Missouri Mavericks, visiting suburban Kansas City on Saturday night at 7:05 before returning home Sunday at 4:05 p.m. Sunday's contest is a Casey 8 Gallons Day, in which fans who buy eight gallons of gasoline at area Casey's General Stores receive a voucher to be used to purchase a discounted $8 ticket for the Sunday game. Blaze fans are invited to watch road games at Gill Street Sports Bar and Restaurant, 3002 Gill Street in Bloomington. Group and multi-game discounts are available and more information can be found by calling 309-TC SPORT or visiting Facebook, Twitter (BLMBlaze) and www.bloomingtonblaze.com.
Junior Blaze drive out Tennyson Chevrolet: The Junior Blaze bounced back with a 5-1 win over Tennyson Chevrolet on Friday afternoon. Ty Gehrken scored the only goal in the first period assisted by Steven Smoltz. The teams went scoreless in the second period. Bloomington took a 2-0 lead after Jacob Lourash scored with 15:18 left. Lourash scored his second goal of the game with 12:16 left in the third to make it 3-0. The Jr. Blaze scored again in the third by Joe Clemente with 9:48 left in the game making it 4-0. Tennyson managed to score late in the third making it 4-1 but Gehrken scored again in the final two minutes of the game making the final score 5-1. The Junior Blaze rematch with Tennyson on Sunday at 11 a.m. at U.S. Cellular Coliseum.