Pelss To Stockton. Zahn/Abney To OKC. Fights Forthcoming.

Photo courtesy of Steven Christy. All rights reserved.

The Oklahoma City Barons and Stockton Thunder announced a switcheroo today that makes me smile. Announced via twitter, left winger Kristians Pelss will be headed to Stockton to play with the Thunder. Meanwhile, Teigan Zahn and Cameron Abney will be headed to Oklahoma City. Mind you, this is all in preparation for this Friday’s divisional matchup against Houston.

The announcement is curious for one reason – history. The short and recent history of top league players on the farm being taken advantage of has become increasingly real. Both Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall have spoken about it publicly. And they aren’t wrong. Schultz with rough rides on the board, the Nuge with a cage, Eberle with a scary knee on knee hit – and under ten games have been played.

And Taylor Hall, expecting to start this Friday, will likely be in the cross hairs in the near future. So what do you do? You’ve already got Colten Teubert and Dane Byers, what more do you need? The answer, for now, is two more in the form and shape of notoriously punchy players. Zahn and Abney fit the “policing the ice” moniker with pride. Good players, not great. But useful beyond skating and pucking. They rarely get pushed around, nor to they allow it to happen to their teammates.

Kristians Pelss hasn’t been the best left winger on the ice, but he hasn’t been terrible either. Excluding the obvious undercurrent of protection that this move suggests, Pelss will benefit from some better minutes in Stockton. He’ll be back.

Make plans to attend the game Friday. Faith and Family Night might be a bloody ordeal. Literally. Houston will be ready as well. And it should be an interesting one.

Movember, Not Just About A Guys’ Upper Lip

Here at Tend The Farm, our love of facial hair is deep. Stubble, goatee, moustache, mutton-chops, van dyke, fu manchu – we love them all equally. We love Abraham Lincoln, who forged a beard after being asked to by an 11 year old future voter. We even smiled at the Brad Pitt-without-a-home look when he filmed that dreadful World War II movie. It goes without saying, that historically speaking, facial hair is pretty much the mark of a great man.

Over the years, I’ve grown to love even my own facial hair. My wife and daughter hate it when it gets scraggly claiming it “feels weird” when delving out my morning kisses when I leave the house for work. My bitterness towards shaving has existed since I used a razor for the first time. Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer – I could wear a heavy beard all the time. The season has no barring in this conversation.

I find myself rightfully amped up when November rolls around, because like so many others who champion a good hair folical, we refuse to shave our upper lips. Sports teams, corporate social climbers, restaurateurs, the pizza delivery guy, the mailman, ministers, policemen, firefighters, repairmen, pilots, stay-at-home dads, and a random assortment of other professions have participated in the years of unshaven bliss.

Less than a few months after I was born, I lost my grandfather to prostate cancer. A highly successful Navy doctor in a MASH unit, my grandfather died before I even had a chance to know who he was. In his absence I’ve grown found of him, through my father, through pictures and stories, and through the life lessons passed down from generation to generation. In recent years, I’ve had a father in law that was diagnosed with prostate cancer. However, his journey was vastly different from that of my grandfathers. He visited the doctor regularly, and at the first sign of problems. He did his research, informed his family, and tackled the disease head on. In November of 2012, he’s in perfect health. He has the rest of his life to enjoy alongside his grandchildren.

Each Movember (or November to all you mustache haters) men are encouraged to encourage other men. Why? Prostate cancer and other male-specific health issues are an important discussion topic. And like so many men, all to often they go undiscussed, unchallenged, unresearched, and thus a danger to us all.

All around the world, since 2003, men have left that furry portion of their lip in tact to bring awareness and raise money for men’s health issues. Is it about the guys’ upper lip? Absolutely not. But it does challenge a thought provoking conversation between men on the subject of health, and that’s always a good thing.

Back to the beginning. We at Tend The Farm implore you to contribute to this campaign in two ways. If you’re a guy, grow a moustache. Visit www.movember.com, select your region, create your MoSpace, and ask people to give unselfishly. Second, if you’d like to contribute to a campaign, visit the moustache in the top right corner of this page or click here. You’ll be able to view my facial hair journey, study the facts on men’s health issues, and donate a bit if you can.

Remember to give. And always remember to have an annual physical, and encourage family and friends to do the same. Because Movember is about more than a mustache, it’s about life. Choose to live healthy.

Barons Beat Stars 4-2; Teubert Gets Feisty…AGAIN

The Barons were looking to rebound from a pretty lifeless defensive effort on Friday, with a rousing defeat of the Texas Stars. With similar records going into this game, one would emerge above .500, and maybe with a little bragging rights. After all, the South Division of the Western Conference looks to be a major league dogfight.

The Barons indeed would reign victorious over the visiting Texas Stars on a cool Sunday afternoon in front of a tiny crowd at the Cox Center. Justin Schultz would score a pair alongside one a piece from Dane Byers and Antti Tyrvainen en route to a 4-2 victory. The “W” was well earned, but the rough stuff continued for Colten Teubert who’d get his second instigating penalty in a three day span. But was it worth it? Perhaps.

Stars goaltender, Cristopher Nilstorp, would receive the bitter end of his teammates lazy line change as Brandon Davidson was able to move the puck quickly up the ice for OKC to a streaking Dane Byers who’d unleash a hard shot that beat the visiting netminder. Barons lead 1-0 at 7:30. But two minutes later Matt Fraser, who finished last season with second in the league in goals, earned his first goal of the young season by picking the pocket of Barons defender Dan Ringwald. Tie game. At the eleven minute mark, Taylor Vause would be tagged with a tripping call that set up a Barons power play, their first of the game. And who else but Justin Schultz scores with a man advantage with Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins assisting. Olivier Roy would protect the net well to round out the period, and the Barons would end the first frame ahead 2-1.

In the second period, Antti Tyrvainen would score his first of the year care of Kristians Pelss and Taylor Fedun. The Stars would show a little more fight as Cody Eakin inches the Texas team just a bit closer to the Barons. But thirteen minutes had past, and Justin Schultz was ready for more. He scored his second of the night, a power play goal assisted by Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, which would also be his sixth of the year as he becomes the sole proprietor of top scorer in the league. But the third period would be the main talking point for water cooler fodder on Monday morning. And it came from a familiar face.

Jack Campbell, relieving Nihlstorp after 20+ minutes of play, steadied the Stars ship. But his team couldn’t connect on Olivier Roy despite throwing 13 goals his way in the third period. The Barons stayed home on defense, protected the puck, and got a little feisty. Perhaps it was frustration, or maybe it was retaliation for a previous event, but what encouraged Antoine Roussel to perform a knee-on-knee hit to Jordan Eberle still has me scratching my head. But he did. Jordan seemed temporarily gimpy, and then watched as Colten Teubert literally chase down Roussel and begin to pummel him. Given the instigator penalty for the second time in two games, Teubert would also receive a fighting penalty, an upgraded instigator/misconduct penalty, and an aggressor game misconduct thrown in for good measure. Was it worth it? Maybe. With a two goal lead at that point, it appeared it was worth sticking up for his teammate, Jordan Eberle. Ebs would be fine. Would actually serve the penalty for Teubert. Life would go on.

The Barons would end the night with a margin win of two goals. 4-2 was your final, and we’ll likely still be talking about this one 24 hours from now. And maybe for the wrong reasons.

Random Thoughts

The “caged” Nugent-Hopkins seemed fine. However, Taylor Fedun would take a stick to the teeth at one point in the game prompting a dental reconstructive joke or two. Following Friday’s game, Nugent-Hopkins admitted to the AHL being “much chippier”, which is something everyone has known, but few had been willing to discuss. And it’s worth noting that Ryan, Jordan, and Justin have all taken their lumps in recent games. Eberle being the most recent incident with the knee-on-knee hit.

Colten Teubert is planning on being “that guy” in the lineup. He’s apparently going to be a protector of sorts. i’m not sure it’s something the team has discussed or if Teubert has simply taken it upon himself. Either way, he’s not shy when it comes to mixing it up. But it also shows the two-faced nature of his game. Because when he goes rouge, he has a tendency to lose direction. It’s a crucial year for Colten to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight. Is this the way to make some noise? Maybe he’s on to something.

The Barons were tight defensively tonight. But more than that, the defenders were able to move the puck quickly to the forwards. Not fussiness with the puck. Just quick, sharp, and determined passing. All along we assumed that the key to victory would be in protecting the net in front of Roy/Danis, but in the end it might be better suited for this blue line core to play keep away from the opposing forwards. Move the puck before they can move to the puck.

After the Friday loss, videos and soundclips emerged of Todd Nelson. He looked none to pleased. And he moved his team to be better. And that’s a step in the right direction for these Barons.

The teams playing OKC will compete at a high level. They aren’t ignoring who’s on that roster, and will likely want nothing more than to disrupt the “guys with the golden spoons”. And who can blame them? It’s gamesmanship at its peak. Let’s hope it’s done within the parameters set forth in the game.

Taylor Hall will be eyeballing a roster spot soon. Sometime this week (Monday) he’ll fly to Edmonton to get an okay from the doctors, then he’ll head back to the heartland and OKC. He’ll sign a historic contract within the AHL, and then suit up asap. This week we’ll get the debut of the Cannonball.

Aeros Rip Apart Barons Defensive Core, Win 6-4

Another day, another lumpy Oklahoma City Barons defensive performance. This time the team falls to the Houston Aeros, who have defensive problems all their own, in a 6-4 victory in OKC Friday night.

The game began with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, and Justin Schultz continuing their better-than-AHL play, but there were others willing to contribute. Magnus Paaajrvi, Tyler Pitlick, and the sometimes scratched Tanner House, all wanted to make a statement early. House, in particular, had two really strong shifts in a row with mighty checks, and great thwarting of the opposition scoring threats. Paaajrvi and Pitlick were quickened from the get go, and did little to slow their roll.

Period one was tough on the goaltenders, and great for goal scoring. Charlie Coyle opened the game with a long ranging wrap around goal that danced on Danis’ stick side, and trickled in. Magnus Paajarvi took a long distance power play shot that went just to the right Aeros tender, Matt Hackett. Justin Schultz would create a chance on the right win wall, hand it off to Dane Byers, who then passed it to the tip of Tanner House’s stick, and into the Houston goal. Aeros right winger, Justin Fontaine, added a power play goal to his teams total as he tips in a Jonas Brodin point shot. With the first period winding down, Paajarvi wheeled the puck behind the net, spun and backhanded the goal towards the Aeros goal. Mark Arcobello would work some magic, and somehow swat the puck in net as it pinballed around momentarily. The Barons would end the period with a 3-2 lead despite having only 7 shots to the Aeros 13.

The second period began a nasty streak that we assumed might arrive in divisional play. The Aeros were able to tie the game on a power play goal by Mikael Granlund, who stole the puck off Taylor Fedun. Carson McMillan would put the Aeros on top towards the end of the second period. Sprinkled into the period was a check to the head, and a semi-interesting fight. The Barons, not quite done, would add a nice goal by Arcobello to even the game as the horn sounded on the second period. The game was all tied after two, 4-4.

To understand the unravelling of the Barons, you need to look no further than the feisty sparks that erupted into full blown flames. But before we tear apart that scenario, Chad Rau scores a goal three minutes in to give Houston a one goal lead. Drew Bagnall and Dane Byers got tangled up in a secondary altercation six minutes into the period. Meanwhile, Colten Teubert and Brett Bulmer were in the throws of giant haymakers including one that brings Bulmer to his knees. Three game misconducts were dealt, and when things were sorted out, the Barons were nearing the point of being done. And they eventually got there. Despite the Aeros giving away tons of open ice, and a few power play opportunities, the Barons would give up one more to Fontaine, his second of the night.

It wasn’t pretty for the Barons, who indeed scored some goals along the way. The team peaked after the first period, and quickly declined. A 6-4 loss had Coach Nelson hot under the collar post game, and rightfully so. Twelve shots in the first two periods, and a total of twenty for the game spits in the face of the Nelson game plan that focuses on getting pucks to the net constantly. When you’re most memorable moment of the night is a Colten Teubert nearly knockout, you have some issues. Texas on Sunday should be a different story.

Workin’ For The Weekend – Houston. Texas. Head North “Texas Flood”

Stevie Ray Vaughan is more than a musical genius. He’s more than a guitar virtuoso. He’s more than soul snatched too early in life. No, he’s so much more than that. He’s the champion of the blues. Not in the musical sense, but in the all encompassing movement of soulful, intellectual, raw, and powerful transformation of pain. Some will squeeze SRV into various genres from rock to blues to jazz. In a short but fiery seven year career with his band, Double Trouble, his debut album/song calledTexas Flood stands as tall as Big Tex at the Texas State Fair (may he rest in peace).

It’s a track that’s oozing with pain, soul, heartache, and grit. In that same vein, SRV manages to capture the hard working Texas man that simply longs to be home where things are good, the sun is bright, and it’s familiar.

I don’t long for Texas sunshine, but I do long for a little dose of the state — in the form of two teams playing in my own backyard.

The mighty South Division of the AHL. Texas, Houston, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and the not-so-South Charlotte Checkers. It’s a solid division. Lots of NHL impact from the lockout. It’s also where our beloved Barons will spend the majority of their season beginning Friday and Sunday against Houston and Texas.

Houston, a team that OKC saw in preseason only weeks ago, lives and breathes on the prospect, one Mikael Granlund. He’s their leading scorer, most intense prospect, and center worth watching in the coming years. But names like Zucker, Palmierie, and Coyle contribute nightly in ways that spreads the offensive output across several lines, and various types of forward play. This always makes them a dangerous.

But it’s defense that has stung the Aeros to date. Starting tender, Matt Hackett, is 1-4 out of the gate. And when they rely on him, he has to be infinitely better.

Marco Scandella is a dandy defensive player with offensive play making talents. He’s tied for second in assists in the league with six through five games. But even he struggles to take hold of a strong defensive front.

Houston remains a good power play team (7th in the league), but one of the worst on the kill at second to last. It should be a good series, and that’s a good thing given how often these two will meet in November.

Then there’s Texas, the only AHL team I watch as much as the Barons. The Stars are right at .500 and directly behind the Barons in the division and west conference standings. The league clearly wants a good rivalry to brew between the OKC team and the one from Cedar Park. It hasn’t happened yet, where the teams really feel the rivalry, but perhaps it’s inevitable. After a terrible season a year ago, the Stars want to roar back to life. Playing the Barons well might be a good start. And that’s something the Stars haven’t done in the last two seasons, the Barons are 12-6-0-02 against Texas.

Oleksiak, Smith, and Chiasson are interesting prospects in the Stars organization, and to some extend have proved valuable early. Young, but valuable. But more familiar faces carry the team. Vincour, Eakin, Benn, Morin, and Petersen are peppered throughout the lineup, and all are fully capable to mount an attack on the South Div, but they haven’t just yet. But, like a few others in the West, they really struggle on the man advantage. But as we’ve seen in OKC, one night can change the percentages early in the season. Add to that the worst penalty kill in the entire American League, and things get scary.

The nuts and bolts of both hockey teams are pretty solid, but neither club has proved itself to be an elite team in the same way Lake Erie has done. This spells trouble for both Texas teams. Might the flood of losses becoming Texas’ way? Stevie Ray thinks so.

User Submitted: Noah Shoots Teemu

User submitted photos are fantastic. Like this one from Noah Geopfert, who snapped a beauty following Teemu Hartikainen’s goal last night against Lake Erie. Nice work! Do you have a photo that you’d like to share? Great. We want to see them. Email us at photos@tendthefarm.com. We’ll post them (with your permission of course).

It’s A 4-3 Victory Against The Monsters For OKC, Top Line Looks Great

Photo courtesy of Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved.

Coach Todd Nelson really likes Tuesday night games. “Our guys like it because they don’t have to go so hard in practice, and it keeps them sharp,” he mentioned on his pre-game interview. And to some extent that’s true. There’s also less time for recover from a busy weekend, fewer moments to work on things, and little time to prepare against a new opponent. But when your AHL team looks more like an NHL one, a Tuesday night game simply fits the NHL-like viewing bill — even as a fan.

Again it was the Erie Monsters and the Oklahoma City Barons. And again it was a remarkable game. The top scoring line overshadowed the rest of the Barons team as Nugent-Hopkins scored a pair, and Eberle and Hartikainen tacked on two more. All en route to a Barons victory, 4-3 on a lovely early Fall evening in OKC.

Period one began just as the first three games between the two clubs had started. It was fast. It was played close on the wall. Back and forth. And then suddenly the Barons take a major hit. Antti Tyrvainen gets whistled for a five minute major for spearing. The zebras tacked on another ten which sent Antti to the showers early for the evening. It’s hard to tell if there was indeed anything physical that occurred causing a 10 minuter, but it was called nonetheless. So the Monsters now were gifted a five minute power play. The penalty kill for OKC went as follows – Taylor Fedun clears. Anton Lander clears. Danis makes a save. Puck clanks off far Barons post. Danis makes a save. Then Magnus Paajarvi cradled a puck and surged down the right wing with Jordan Eberle on his left. Magnus passes the puck perfectly to Eberle, and they score with ease. But the goal was immediately waved off. The officiating crew immediately went to the video, and indeed, Eberle turned his skate and semi-kicked the puck in. No goal. So the Barons continued the kill. Bryan Lerg of the Monsters, scores for the Monsters with some traffic in front of Danis. Monsters up 1-0. A Luke Walker high stick gave us 4 on 4 hockey before a full three minutes of Barons power play time. And it was Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who’d take things into his own hands. Grappling the puck off the wall, he gently eased the puck towards the left face off dot, but wrists a shot that hits nothing but net. But the Monsters fire back with an Andrew Agazzino goal that gets stuck under Danis’ pads. Some hitting, some shoving, some hockey slap fighting, and the game began to live up to the hype we’d hoped. The Barons would round out the period with a power play point shot by Eberle that featured a whale of a shield by Teemu Hartikainen directly in front of Erie tender, Calvin Pickard. Period one ends with a 2-2 game.

Period two was all about one goal power plays by both teams. Magnus Paajarvi gave the hockey equivilant of a pump fake, slid to one side, and then fired the puck on net. It bounced around in front of the Monsters’ goaltender, and then Hartikainen tucked it in. Barons take a 3-2 lead six minutes into the period on a dynamo power play opportunity. Chris VandeVelde would perform an inopportune cross check that the Monsters were grateful for. It benefited them greatly as Bryan Lerg again scored a power play goal, his second of the evening, as the ten minute mark of the game quickly approached. The period would end with a 3-3 game.

Period three was a good one for Yann Danis who made two really good saves, including a 3 on 1 break that was spurred on by Ryan Martindale’s coughing up of the puck. He also stopped all 13 shots coming his way in the final frame. In the end it was a Jordan Eberle to Nugent-Hopkins hand off that won the game for OKC. On the doorstep of the goalmouth, Nugent-Hopkins awaited a pass from Eberle, and like clock work the goal was knocked in. The Barons end the night with four power play goals, and a little spring in their step as a result.

That’s a quality win if I’ve ever seen one. Good competition. Good goaltending at the end. A dogfight offensively. And for Oklahoma City, a 4/7 power play total is what the team was looking for. Now, as they soldier on, can they fine tune the sticky areas? Mainly in the defensive end where they seem wildly inconsistent at times. Patience is a virtue, or so I hear.

Workin’ For The Weekend (Tuesday Edition) – Lake Erie…Again “Break My Stride”

The hair. The mustache. The Matthew Wilder.

Matthew Wilder, the one hit wonder performer of the song “Break My Stride”, spent most of his life behind the scenes of the music biz. Background vocalist, record producer, Oscar soundtrack tinkerer, and influential engineer. But he’ll never be able to shake the residue of a song with a chorus that is equally as catchy as it is annoying. “Ain’t nothin’ gonna to break my stride. Nobody’s gonna slow me down, oh no. I got to keep on movin'” – wow, I had to hum that as I typed. Thanks for nothing, Mr. Wilder.

In the late 70’s and early 80’s, Wilder found himself disenfranchised with the music industry. No one gave him a break, nor did they consider his potential. So he penned a tune that made him feel better, that forced him to smile, that talked about never succumbing to poor relationships, terrible times, or sadness. A stride certainly isn’t worth breaking.

The Oklahoma City Barons are a team that likes to stride. Or at least on paper. We’ve seen four games, and in those games have seen some great hockey. Highly entertaining, highly energetic, and maybe a tad disappointing for Barons fans. Nonetheless, the team is playing well despite the .500 record in the first full week of AHL play. It would be easy for fans to feel disheartened at the moment. To emote strong feelings of “Why” “What” or “How” when it’s entirely too early to judge any team. So I implore you…look to the 80’s treasure that demands a stride not be broken, that no one be able to hold you down. Oh no, you gotta keep on moving.

Again it’s the Lake Erie Monsters. Again it’s the Oklahoma City Barons. In what will be the fifth game of the 2012-13 season for OKC, the team will have faced the Monsters four of those times. Stupid scheduling, yes. Mainly because it’s the only time in the regular season that these two will meet, and my oh my has it been entertaining. Let’s look at the short, but intense series numbers.

  • First two games this season were decided by one goal. The third game by two goals.
  • It’s early, but worth pointing out based on whom they’ve played recently. The Lake Erie Monsters are in first place in the Western Conference while the Oklahoma City Barons are in ninth.
  • Lake Erie has allowed 7 goals and scored 17. The Barons are obviously closer together on the differential scale with 11 allows and 12 scored.
  • The overall power play for Oklahoma City is 5.9% success. Boiled down to the real number that’s 1/17. Yikes. The penalty kill overall has taken a dive recently as well. Now at 76%, it took a dip on Saturday when they gave up two third period pp goals.
  • The Monsters leading scorer is 30 year old Thomas Pock. The Barons leading scorer is 22 year old Justin Schultz. The careers of these two couldn’t be more polar opposite at the present time. But both have been dynamite for their teams.

Once again, we dive into a shallow pool of stats so early in the season but it’s interesting nonetheless. The Barons and Monsters have teetered on bitter rivalry for years, and to start the season in this fashion, has fueled that slightly. It’s not a nasty rivalry, but one where the compete level is at its finest. Expect Tuesday to be nothing short of fantastic.

Lake Erie Monsters (4-1-0-0) vs. Oklahoma City Barons (2-2-0-0)

Projected Barons Lineup
Teemu Hartikainen – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Magnus Paajarvi – Ryan Martindale – Mark Arcobello
Antti Tyrvainen – Anton Lander – Curtis Hamilton
Dane Byers – Chris VandeVelde – Tyler Pitlick

Justin Schultz – Martin Marincin
Brandon Davidson – Colten Teubert
Taylor Fedun – Alex Plante

Yann Danis

Scratched: Tanner House, Kristians Pelss, Dan Ringwald
Injured: Josh Green (ribs)

Random Notes

The starting five of Lake Erie (Olver, Barrie, Malone, Pock, Thomas) has been devastating for OKC. Thus Nelson is trying to close the gap on the scoring, but adding some speed deeper in the lineup and mostly with the forwards. But the greater issue is the defensive players on the ice when the top scoring threat of Erie is hanging around. And although Dan Ringwald is listed as a potential scratch, he might be a viable defensive candidate to replace Plante or Teubert. They need some wheels.

It’s time for the Barons goaltenders to bail the team out. Dangerously close to averaging 3 goals allowed a game isn’t blindingly terrible, except when your goals for are only slightly better. Danis looks to turn a page tonight, assuming he continues the on/off pattern with Olivier Roy.

Justin Schultz is chasing a record. John Slaney holds the AHL goal records in two categories. First, AHL single season goals scored by rookie defenseman (20), and AHL single season goals scored by a defenseman (30). At the rate Schultz is traveling he might break the record by Christmas.

On Monday’s radio show, Todd Nelson talked about the doldrums of a power play unit that we’ve seen in the first 10 days of the season. “It has to get better. It will get better.” Also mentioned discussing this matter with Taylor Hall, whom is now taking light contact in practice.

Justin Schultz Named AHL Player Of The Week

Photo courtesy of Steven Christy. All rights reserved.

Justin Schultz. There are no words to discuss how dominate this kid has been in roughly four games. At 22 (I’ll still refer to him as kid), he’s elevated the dominance he showed at Wisconsin, and translated that to a really really good field in the AHL. A rookie pro season that should have began in Edmonton is blossoming in Oklahoma City. The kid is truly remarkable.

The honor was due him. Six points in four games. Four of those being goals. That’s just silly. Three of those games were played against the rookie tenders in Lake Erie that have proved to be hard to beat.

Congratulations to Justin Schultz. An honor well deserved for work done well.

Cameron Abney Returns To Stockton Thunder Of ECHL

Photo courtesy of Steven Christy. All rights reserved.

After spending the better part of an entire ECHL season in Stockton, it appears that Cameron Abney will have another go in California. Announced today, Abney will be assigned to the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL where he spent 29 games in 2011-2012. The heavy handed forward received the short end of the stick so to speak as Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and eventually Taylor Hall cause the scales to tip in favor of the top of the lineup, not at the bottom. Rightfully so, something had to give, and it had to give quickly. With Hall’s yellow contact jersey being removed last week, and reports of him taking minor contact this morning, it seems as if The Cannonball is ready to fire in the AHL.

There is a silver lining here for Abney, whose fists earned him 11 total fights in the ECHL a season ago, in that he will get time with a club he’s familiar with, and a better placement in the lineup. Abney, for me, has always represented something the Barons have lacked — a heavy fighter. But even the AHL is changing these days, and fisticuffs doesn’t get you far in an increasingly speedy and youthful league, especially during the lockout. It also didn’t bode well for Abney when, in the offseason, the Barons/Oilers signed Dane Byers who knows a thing or two about a good scrap, but with a much better upside than Cam.

Take a moment a think about the players that have been effected by the NHL lockout with direct ties to OKC. Philippe Cornet, Teigan Zahn, Cameron Abney, Toni Rajala – all now playing in Stockton. Except for Rajala, the other three were anticipated to skate in OKC for a full season. Yes, the trickle down has trickled down.

Wishing nothing but the best for Cam Abney, and much like last season, I’m sure he’ll pop up in OKC from time to time. He certainly makes games interesting, and the fans love him for it (most of the time).