Barons Wallop Charlotte 7-3, Winning Is Fun

Charlotte Checkers vs. Oklahoma City Barons 2-1-13
Winning is fun. Hugs! Photo courtesy of Rob Ferguson.

After a Thursday showing by OKC that was dreadfully uninspired offensively, the Barons did a complete 180 on Friday night. With the top line doing the bulk of the heavy lifting, the Oklahoma City Barons scored seven goals against the Charlotte Checkers and won handily against the best team in the Western Conference.

With Niko Hovinen in his debut goaltending role in Oklahoma City, and Magnus Paajarvi back with the team, the Barons carefully navigated the first period of play. Charlotte scored on the power play following a Paajarvi holding call (he’d have a semi-rough night) to take a 1-0 lead. The new top line of Philippe Cornet, Mark Arcobello, and Jonathan Cheechoo would even things up less than two minutes later. Cornet, scoring his third of the season, made it one all. Charlotte’s Luke Pither, having a solid weekend, scored mid-way through the first to put his team back on top. But the Barons got really good to end the first twenty minutes. Mark Arcobello at 5 on 5, and Philippe Cornet on the power play put OKC back on top when the horn resounded to end period one. The home team would score three goals (one on the power play), all from the top scoring line.

Charlotte Checkers vs. Oklahoma City Barons 2-1-13
About that mask, Niko. Photo courtesy of Rob Ferguson.

With a 3-2 lead, the Barons would score three more goals in the second period. Jonathan Cheechoo, his first as a Baron, followed by Toni Rajala, and Chris Vande Velde. This suddenly placed OKC in full control with a 6-2 lead. Charlotte’s go-to-guy of late, Chris Terry, knocked one in for Charlotte to inch the Checkers back into the game, but the second period would end with a lopsided home team lead, 6-3.

The final period, as anticipated, was equal parts protection and pressing by both teams. Niko Hovinen seemingly found his groove in net, and stopped all ten shots by Charlotte in the third. The Barons would add one goal, another by Arcobello, to end the game 7-3 favoring the Barons. A resounding victory after a sloppy loss the night before is a welcome sight. The Barons now get a full week off before playing their next opponent, the Grand Rapids Griffins, at home.

Random Thoughts

How about tonight’s score sheet?

Jonathan Cheechoo – 1 goal, 4 assists, +3
Philippe Cornet – 2 goals, 2 assists, +3
Mark Arcobello – 2 goals, 2 assists, +3
Toni Rajala – 1 goal, +1
Chris Vande Velde – 1 goal, +1
Brett Clark, Kristians Pelss, Andrew Hotham, Martin Marincin – 1 assist

The top scoring line on this squad seems to be jockeying for a revival (or rather rebirth). Cornet is the big surprise given where he began the season (in Stockton), and given how impressive he was in the early stretches of last season. From ECHL “extra AHL guy” to top line goal scorer in less than two months is such a whiplash season. But he takes it in stride.

Cheechoo’s five point night is interesting. He assisted n four other goals, all by his linemates in Cornet and Arcobello. Scoring his first goal was nice, but he certainly played set up man in some really great scoring opportunities. With Peoria last season it took him at least five games to warm up, and perhaps the same occurred this season. Either way, he’s a great mid-season get, who’ll be a huge asset down the stretch.

Goal scoring came from three lines this evening. That’s starting to become a common situation when the Barons win. Keep it up!

The Barons gave up 15 total penalty minutes, and only went 50% on the penalty kill. But that really doesn’t matter much when you outscore your opponent. And on a night where your newbie goaltender seemed a tad rusty out of the gate, this was a pretty dominate performance on the offensive side of the puck for OKC.

Magnus Paajarvi did seem a bit out of touch this evening. For the “kid” to not even register an official shot is strange. He also was not helped by his linemates, and we know that MPS thrives on those that are around him. Making something out of nothing hasn’t been his strong suit over the years. He’ll be fine, no worries on my part.

Yann Danis was present, but Olivier Roy dressed as the back up. Post forthcoming on this topic tomorrow morning.

Perhaps the most important moment of the night came after the game was over. The team auctioned off Special Olympics jerseys worn during the game, and fans helped raise$26,850.

Oklahoma City Barons fans were treated to a 7-3 win over the Charlotte Checkers. Following the game, the fans treated Special Olympics Oklahoma.

The Barons wore one-of-a-kind jerseys in their Friday night contest against Charlotte. Jonathan Cheechoo tied a franchise record with five points…but that wasn’t the story. Following the game, the Barons one-of-a-kind jerseys were available for bids in a live auction.

Barons fans didn’t disappoint. Fans contributed $26,850 to benefit the program. All proceeds from the auction benefit the Barons Buddies program with Special Olympics Oklahoma. Over the last two seasons, fans have donated over $50,000 to the Barons Buddies program and Special Olympics Oklahoma.

As mentioned above, the Barons get a full week to prepare for another two-for at home. Next weekend they’ll meet the Grand Rapids Griffins.