The first period in Charlotte was as anticipated as a Target Black Friday ad. There was no short of high energy, quick and poignant hockey chances, superb goaltending, and few penalties. The irony of the first period was that only a total f 13 shots were taken – 8 by Charlotte, 5 by Oklahoma City. But it wasn’t just the offense that seemed ready to go. The defense, both by forwards and straight forward defenders, was a kind of shiny that, for at least the Barons, we haven’t seen all that often. Schultz, Nugent-Hopkins, Hartikainen, and Rajala had really good chances both from a great distance and in close. Starting Checkers goaltender, Justin Peters shut them down quickly. And for Charlotte, Jerome Sampson and Zac Dalpe were really blazing some ice, and finding a few holes in the Barons blue line (and otherwise), but Danis came up big. A flurry of chances to end the period quickly got Yann into a groove, and it quickly became apparent that we were in for a doozy of a game. Period one ended with a 0-0 tie game.
The second period the offense started to boil. After two really good shifts, Zac Dalpe would put the Checkers on the big board first. Dalpe, scoring his sixth of the season, would provide some high drama throughout the game. Although trailing by a goal at this point, the Barons began to turn up the heat a bit in the wake of Charlotte amping their shot totals. Jordan Eberle would score the equalizing goal just past the midway point of the second period. Suddenly we have a game. Another Checker named Zack would score a goal to take the lead back. This time it was often-scorer Zack Boychuk. The period would end with the Checkers on top 2-1. But the not-so-silent victory in the second period was that the Barons kept the Checkers, who own the best power play in the entire league, at 0-2. That’d be a huge stat to end the game. Stay tuned.
The third period was all Oklahoma City on the scoreboard, but Charlotte really found ways of making it interesting. The Barons would give an early Christmas gift to the Checkers in the form of three power play opportunities including a crucial 3 on 5. But it was OKC that quickly turned things around offensively. Not shooting a ton, but using their chances wisely, the Barons top scoring line “did their thing”. Jordan Eberle scored his second of the night just 90 seconds into the third (assisted by Taylor Hall and Martin Marincin). Seven minutes later, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored his eighth goal of the season (assisted by Justin Schultz and Taylor Hall). To seal the deal, Colten Teubert netted an extra one with a minute remaining, and the Checkers goaltender pulled.
The Barons win again, but this time against the best in the West. A 5-2 victory over a team like Charlotte feels like a 10-0 victory. Mainly because they sealed off the edges, center, and everything else in between on the Checkers pesky power play unit. Well done guys.
Same two teams face each other today at 2pm central. Now the thought becomes consistency for the Barons and adjustment for the Checkers. Should be another dandy.
Taylor Hall me baby. No goals but three helpers? That’s a good sign for Mr. Hall. He also was a chance monster (by my eye) and that’s also a good thing.
I mentioned secondary scoring in the pre-game post. I was completely wrong. The abilities of the “NHL GUYS” is hard to grasp. And, for the record, I’ve never seen a “minor” league team who is able to turn it on so quickly. Somewhat educate me. Have you ever seen anything like this before? Chances are you’ll say no, because there’s never been a minor league roster like the one for OKC.
Zac Dalpe can play. I’ve known this for a while, but really impressed me last night.
Yann did Yann things last night. Stopping 33 of 31 shots, and a whole bunch of those were on the PP. Well done Yann. We’re going streaking!