A Yann-less and Lander-less Oklahoma City Barons squad hit the ice on Thursday night to face the Charlotte Checkers, who are down a few men themselves. It was a night where the Barons played a solid hockey game, made mistakes along the way, proved they could compete with quality opponents, but in the end were just unable to score. The Checkers would beat Oklahoma City by one goal, which came with under thirty seconds remaining in the game.
The first period was a typical post-All Star game affair. Lots of penalties and fits of stops and starts slowed the pace just enough to keep both teams wound tight. Mark Arcobello would hook a Charlotte player, say some uncomely things to the referee, and earn a very special double minor. The Checkers seized the opportunity as Chris Terry worked some magic behind the net, eased the puck towards centerman Jeremy Welsh who’d put his team up 1-0. The Barons would have two opening period power play chances, but squandered them quickly. Instead Nathan Deck would accept a fantastic pass from the hard-working Josh Green, and net his first AHL goal and tie the game at one. The period ends 1-1.
The first ten minutes of the second period were some of the best the Barons have played in several games. They owned the possesion minutes until they suffered three penalties in less than eight minutes thus keeping them from a high number of scoring chances. They did, however, keep Charlotte of the board and that in and of itself seemed like a quiet victory. The second period ended still tied 1-1.
The third period saw the puck spend a ton of time in the Charlotte zone, and the Barons would get two power play opportunities that’d go nowhere. They’d eventually end the game with an 0 for 5 mark, while Charlottes went 2 for 7. And indeed that final power play goal would come with less than 30 seconds remaining in the game. Brett Clark was tagged with an embellished tripping call, and defenseman Bobby Raymond would post only his second goal of the season on his only shot of the night. The Barons would lose 2-1 on home ice, and with a sour taste in their palette to end the game.
The tripping call at the end was probably a trip. It was also probably a dive. Thus negating the power play for the Charlotte Checkers. And this one can’t be boiled down to just one bad call by the zebras. As a matter of fact, the Barons power play looked dreadful, and at times so did 5 on 5. There’s no excuse for not scoring in this one because the chances were there, the execution was not. Roy did a pretty marvelous job keeping his team in the game, but the penalties and overly content play late in the game caused some major problems. The good news is that the Barons get another crack at Charlotte tomorrow.
Yann Danis was in attendance, but didn’t make it to the rink in time to suit up. Thus he watched from the stands. Niko Hovinen backed up Roy, and will probably swap seats with Yann in the stands tomorrow.
Perhaps Lander’s absence through the lines into a tailspin, but there were still moments where the team had really good looks, Charlotte defense broke down, but the Barons simply couldn’t finish. Not good.
Coach Nelson told Mike Baldwin at the Daily Oklahoman:
“We played well enough to win tonight. That’s the bottom line,” said Oklahoma City coach Todd Nelson. “But right now it’s not good enough.”
“The game was there for us to win,” Nelson said. “We had a breakaway opportunity that we didn’t bury and they score on a power play at the end. Tonight was one of those games we found a way to lose.”
“Our power play was horrendous,” Nelson said. “That’s one thing we have to address. And we gave up two power play goals. Our special teams stunk tonight. We played well when it was five-on-five.”
Clearly frustrated by his team’s effort on special teams, Nelson looked none too pleased on the bench when the game ended. The usually steely eyed coach was rather flustered by it all. He knows what ails his team, and he’s not unbiased in his finger pointing. EVERYONE has to be better.