Workin’ For The Weekend: O-K-C at San Antonio “Holdin’ On”

Tane On Her High Horse. Any Room For The Barons Up There?

Tane Cain. You’ve heard of her, haven’t you? If not, that’s fine. Most don’t. As I was watching a fine program on late night VH1 (in the wee morning hours), I stumbled across one of those countdown shows. You know the ones. Where this band, that singer, that actor, that talking head have done this or that since leaving the “mainstream” attention of their 15 minutes of fame. One in particular that morning caught my attention. It was a 3 minute and 34 second ode to a singer of a song entitled “Holdin’ On” that I’ve heard many times on the various 80’s music channels I love. Somewhere around 1982, the keyboardist for the band Journey nudged his beautiful wife into the recording business. On the wings of writing the song “Faithfully” for her, Jonathan Cain indeed landed a record deal for his wife Tane Cain. She was grateful. Layed down the tracks. Put out some music. But flopped just as quickly. Eventually she’d land in some “interesting” movie roles in the next decade or so, and all we are left with is a lost 80’s hit.

“Holdin’ On” is the cheesiest of the cheese. The hair waving in the video is enough to make even the most steel built stomach turn sour. Yet at the same time it’s glorious. The song, most compared to Pat Benetar material, was at its most simplest form a track about hanging on to love. With such deep lyrics as “I couldn’t believe the Night you walked away. Left me alone to play a fool’s charade”, it’s hard not to find some humor in her attempt at seriousness. But like most of the music from the 80’s pop scene (and thus featured on this site), it’s not the deepness of the content we embrace, but it’s dispensability. And that’s okay. Not everything has to be high and mighty or hoity-toity.

The Oklahoma City Barons are the Tane Cain of the American Hockey League. So much beauty. So much potential. So great a company they keep. But sometimes they just can’t quite figure themselves out. One day they are hair flipping, the next they contemplating a role in ‘Death Spa’ (metaphorically speaking, of course). Coming off two losses to Houston isn’t a humongous deal considering how often they won prior to that (6 of 7 to be exact). But I’ll be the first to ask the team to keep “Holdin’ On” for a bit longer. Keep grinding away. Keep winning games. The core of this team might not be around much longer (or maybe it will), but either way, reach out and hang on tight to the things that work. Make me and Ms. Cain proud.

It’s that time of year. No, not when the world falls in love (“Christmas Waltz”) or when things get roasted over an open fire (“The Christmas Song”) or when it takes a 39 and a half foot pole to get things done (“You’re A Mean One Mister Grinch”), but rather a moment where the grind begins. The newness and “gel” capabilities of hockey teams have had time to either wear off or converge. The rosters start to settle into a groove of consistency, and hopefully teams charge towards Christmas day in the standings. Unlike other seasons, this one feels particularly odd because of the NHL lockout, but even more so recently because that particular league has teased us for three days about a potential end to the blubbering and bargaining. As the dust settled, the podium was used not as an announcement for an agreement met, but rather an agreement stalled – collectively hearts break throughout hockeydom far and wide. So we turn our eyes back to the AHL and our beloved Oklahoma City Barons.

The grind is important to embrace. Like anyone who works any job anywhere, there are moments where “dialing it in” happens. As a condition of simply being human, the inability to continually be 100% or do things 100% is difficult. If it weren’t, we’d have nothing to talk about on this hockey blog. The key is that when someone dips, someone else needs to soar. Leaning on your teammates is a vital part of success, and teams that win do this the best.

The Barons travel to San Antonio to meet the 8-11-0-3 Rampage. The team from the deep Texas south had a really bad start. Eight straight losses in the month of November was brutal, and nearly crippling out of the gate. But through that rough patch, there were a handful of games that were of the one-goal variety so there was a little glimmer of hope for the team. Indeed they’ve lived to tell the tale, and likely improve as a result. Winning four of the last five, including two against the best team in the Western Conference, the Abbotsford Heat. Are the Rampage on a rampage?

When you look at the top of the Western Conference there are some teams that are surging and others that are headed the wrong direction. Charlotte and Lake Erie (2nd & 6th at time of publish) have losing records over the last ten games, but are still ahead of Oklahoma City in the standings. That’s good news for teams 7th through 15th. What’s not good news is that Houston, Grand Rapids, and Rockford have all begun to climb the conference rather quickly. If OKC can snatch two against San Antonio this weekend, add them to the list of standing climbers. Lose them both and favor swings towards others in the South Division including the Rampage.

For Oklahoma City, Nugent-Hopkins is gone. Attending to a shoulder situation prior to the World Juniors takes the drivers seat, and so the Barons lines look a tad different this weekend. The good news for OKC is that Tyler Pitlick and Josh Green both return to the lineup. So things get a tad more bearable. What do the lines look like? Coach Nelson touched on that:

“We might put Tyler with Josh Green and Curtis Hamilton,” Nelson began. “With the absence of Nugent-Hopkins we’re going to have to have a guy with some creativity so we’ll probably move Arcobello up with Hall and Eberle. The Nordic line (Paajarvi/Lander/Hartikainen) can stay the same and Byers will play with VandeVelde and either Cornet or Abney.”

Interesting. Thus we have a starting lineup that looks like this over the weekend:

Taylor Hall – Mark Arcobello – Jordan Eberle
Magnus Paajarvi – Anton Lander – Teemu Hartikainen
Tyler Pitlick – Josh Green – Curtis Hamilton
Dane Byers – Chris VandeVelde – Philippe Cornet

Martin Marincin – Justin Schultz
Taylor Fedun – Colten Teubert
Alex Plante – Jordan Henry

Yann Danis

I like the promotion of Arcobello because he produces, and will produce even more with those two. It’s inevitable. I’m also anxious to see Pitlick and Green work magic together. Hamilton seems to be the odd duck on the third line, but given whom he’s running with, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to make a stride or two.

Stockton call up defender, Nathan Deck, likely gets a start the second night. Also, this might be the perfect moment for Danis on Saturday and Roy on Sunday. The Rampage like to defend a tad more than most teams in the South, so their offensive chances sometimes get thwarted when goaltenders make good stops. That might be a good way for Roy to get a much needed good game and win.

I’ll leave you with that brief preview for now. Enjoy the game.