It’s always a good game when Oklahoma City plays Texas. And in typical fashion, the game was anything but boring on Saturday night in Cedar Park. As both teams charge for April playoff spots, the Barons would sneak in, steal another two points, and begin their three-in-three this weekend in good shape.
Jonathan Cheechoo would have a three point night (two goals, one assist), the Barons defense would overcome some adversity, and Oklahoma City would beat Texas 5-4 in a shootout. It was a wild ride indeed.
In the first ten minutes, the Oklahoma City Barons were streaking hard with the puck. They had a handful of shots before the Stars could even muster one. C.J. Stretch with a hard shot on Cristopher Nilstorp’s right side. Colten Teubert with a long distance wrister. Just lots of really strong offensive positioning. Then the penalties came. Finally, as the Stars were gaining some momentum, Curtis Hamilton was whistled for an infraction, and Stars’ right winger, Doug Jones, scored the first goal of the game. As the period wore on, both teams would shoot the puck under ten times. The Stars would end the first twenty 1-0.
The second period began much as the first – with Oklahoma City at a white hot pace. They’d score two goals in the first five minutes. The first from Jonathan Cheechoo from Philippe Cornet, the second from Martin Marincin as he had just left the penalty box after committing a high sticking penalty. They’d continue to push hard, but would take a couple of wonky shifts that resulted in the Stars pushing back. Matt Fraser and Justin Dowling scored goals less than two minutes apart at even strength to take a 3-2 lead. With time expiring, Colten Teubert snagged a long distance goal to again even the game for OKC. The period would end with a 3-3 tie.
In the third period, the Stars would again go up a goal. Mid-way through the period, Matt Fraser earned his second of the night. But less than two minutes later, Jonathan Cheechoo did the same during the only successful power play endeavor from OKC. A 4-4 tie was carried through the entire third period.
In the overtime period it appeared that Matt Fraser earned a hat trick and the hero tag for the night. But upon further investigation, the referee blew the play dead as Jace Coyle inadvertently slashed a Baron. This negated the goal, and put the Barons on the man advantage instead of sealing the victory for the Stars. Despite a solid full throttle performance by OKC, the extra hockey ended with a tie. Shootout forthcoming.
Josh Green and Mark Arcobello scored in overtime for OKC while Niko Hovinen stopped Fraser, Sceviour, Wandell and Vincour for the Stars. The Oklahoma City Barons begin the month of March and their first of two three-in-threes with two points. That’s two victories against the Stars in less than a week. Meanwhile, Texas is on a three game losing streak.
The line of Hordichuk-House-Hamilton saw it’s ice time dwindle as the game went on. Even the broadcast team noticed it, and unofficially calculated :90 of ice time for Curtis Hamilton. If he played that much in the third period, I’ll be shocked. This left Cheechoo, in particular, to double-shift his way to glory. And the gamble for Coach Nelson paid off. It was nice to see the Barons live in the moment for a change, winning THIS ONE as opposed to future casting the next couple of games. Will the team be gassed? Likely. But that’s life in the AHL in March. Go hard or go home.
Niko Hovinen hasn’t been great (something I keep saying), but he’s been good enough. Finishing strong is the key for him, and not allowing a single shootout goal is a sweet sweet sight to behold.
Charlotte on Sunday and Monday means that this team will probably play at least one uninspired game where you roll your eyes. But the two points earned in Cedar Park were impressive. Can they keep it up on the back half of the three-in-three? Fingers crossed.