To put it in the most cliché of terms, it probably wasn't the start the Tulsa Jr. Oilers wanted.
The Western States Hockey League (WSHL) team had opened its season with a three-game series against the Dallas Ice Jets, considered the favorite to win their division in the AAU-sanctioned junior A League. The Oilers had dropped the first two games at the Polar Ice House, located in the Grapevine Mall just north of the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. Looking to salvage something from the series and build momentum for the new season, they took the ice in front of roughly 80 spectators.
Spectators who watched the Oilers give up 40 shots in the first period against Dallas.
Spectators who watched Tulsa manage one shot on Dallas goalie Josh Messick during that span.
They watched as the Oilers surrendered 28 more shots in the second period. They gave up 35 more before the buzzer sounded in the third to end the 10-0 victory for the Ice Jets.
It added up to 103 shots on goal in 60 minutes. This is Bulgarian women's hockey team territory. The WSHL confirmed on its Facebook page that it was a league record.
"This is a really uncommon thing in any game of hockey at any level," said Oilers coach and director of hockey operations Zac Desjardins.
"This is our second season in the league, and last year we never had a shot total that got close to a 100," said Paul Taylor, head coach of the Ice Jets.
So how does a team give up 103 shots in a single game?
It was a Sept. 23 game between the Ice Jets, a powerhouse in the Midwest Division, and the Oilers, who are in their inaugural season with the WSHL.
"They are a very good team who lost very few players from last year to this year. They also have some very good younger players mixed in, with the already fast and experienced team," said Desjardins.
The Oilers coach is attempting to build a franchise that will keep talented local players from bolting for places like Dallas. But at the moment, it's a true expansion team: Not enough experienced players at the junior level. In fact, not enough players, period.
Against Dallas, the Oilers had only 13 players on their bench, including two goaltenders.
"The enormous shot total was a result of us having a very good team and the fact that Tulsa was playing with a short bench," said Taylor.
Said Dejardins: "We had a short bench with a lot of players that never played Junior hockey, so it was weekend of new experiences for all my players."
That was reflected in all three games of the weekend series. Friday's opening night saw the Ice Jets outshoot the Oilers 63-8, including 33-0 in the third period in a 16-0 win. Saturday's game saw the Oilers score their lone goal of the weekend in a 9-1 loss — a defeat that saw the Ice Jets tally 73 shots to the Oilers' 10.
So, in total, Dallas outshot Tulsa 239-33 during the three-game set, none of which went to overtime.
Texas hockey blogger Tanner Wilson, who hipped us to this story, wondered if the shot total might be a world record. The WSHL said, via Facebook:
"Probably not. There are some ridiculous shot totals in historically unbalanced leagues or even international competition. Tough way to open the season for the Jr. Oilers but they will get better as the year goes on and they acquire more players."
So what on Earth do the coaches tell their players after one team is outshot by 206 in a three-game series?
"During the weekend and up to now we have been using that weekend and as a learning experience to see where we have to be and what we have to do to get better," said Dejardins.
Taylor told the Ice Jets that the competition would get tougher, and not to take the evisceration of the Oilers for granted. "The message I gave my players after the weekend was that we are not going to play in games very often or ever again that will allow us to accumulate those type of shots," said Taylor.
This is probably good advice, seeing as how 103 shots on goal in three periods is a difficult pace to maintain …