Coach Todd Nelson has always been a straight shooter. A guy that likes teams to “play the system” and “keep the game simple”. He echoed those sentiments this evening when he explained the very late, and game-altering goal that occured last night leading to an OKC Barons shootout defeat. “The game of hockey is very simple. It’s about doing the fundamentals right and doing them often. I always tell the guys that the game is honest. Don’t cheat it.” What a great quote, the game is honest, don’t cheat it. And so the Barons set out to put the fundamental pieces of winning to the test. Nelson (and fans) weren’t disappointed…for a while.
The first period was again at a break neck speed. Rushes up and down the ice, in and out of traffic, high shot totals, major crimes against goaltenders; but the Barons stung quickly. Philippe Cornet caught Rockford goaltender, Henrik Karlsson, playing the puck behind the net. Young Phil attacked him hard, jiggled the puck loose, and put in a wrap around goal in the first minute and forty seconds of the game. Josh Green and Dane Byers nearly get another one, but were unsuccessful. Instead, the Barons would be gifted a power play opportunity after a Rockford slash. And who else, but Philippe Cornet, puts in another goal after a long distance shot by Brett Clark went high into the air, and was whacked into the net. With a 2-0 lead, Martin Marincin would angle a shot into the Rockford net, it would hit the side of the cage, but Josh Green would cradle it on his stick, and score the third goal of the period. Niko Hovinen would save the keesters of his teammates by making two incredible saves to end the period, and the Barons would start the game with a full head of steam, 3-0.
Chris VandeVelde won a faceoff with his hand to end the first period, and that’s a no-no. Thus the Barons were left to kill a penalty to begin the second. And the IceHogs would make good on the opportunity. Jimmy Hayes earned the first goal of the game for Rockford. But the momentum for Rockford wouldn’t last long as Mark Arcobello scored a goal with assists to Jonathan Cheechoo and Philippe Cornet. At 4-1, Jeremy Morin would net his eighth goal of the year and the IceHogs showed signs of moving towards catching the Barons. A rough and tumble couple of minutes for both teams saw Dan Byers tossed as well as Kyle Beach. Then it was Tyrvainen with a charging penalty on top of a roughing penalty. And Rockford would again strike back. As captain Martin St. Pierre made a dandy of a pass to Jimmy Hayes, the Barons defenders were caught off guard, and Hovinen would let in the third goal for the IceHogs in the second period. The horn resounded and the Barons three goal lead was now down to one. 4-3, OKC after two.
Then the third period happened…
The Barons would give up four, that’s four straight goals, in an absolute collapse of everything that Nelson was preaching to do. Fundamentals were out, and were replaced by a tails between our legs form of defense. The first two were scored within the first four minutes of the game, the last two via a power play goal and an empty netter. The Barons would only muster three shots in the final frame. Don’t even read the box score, it’s a lovely shade of dumpster fire.
So the Barons win two last week in a road three-in-three against two great teams, then promptly lose the first two of a three-in-three at home. Bad mojo. The Oklahoma City Barons would lose to the Rockford IceHogs, 7-4.
The Barons travel to San Antonio for a matinee game against a other team chasing them in points, the Rampage. Drink lots of Pepto.