Developing a solid game plan necessitates that your team understands first and foremost that hockey games are a full sixty minutes. Failing to “buy in” to this idea rarely ends well for players, and leaves coaches to pull their hair out. As maddening as it seems, the Oklahoma City Barons continue to have a propensity for playing half to three fourths of games, rather than a full cup. And perhaps most teams could get away with it, but when your defensive core is young, relying on them to protect-a-lead will only leave you snake bitten. (Scoring on the power play also helps)
On a rare Tuesday night home game for OKC, the Rochester Americans would expose the late game struggles of the Baron, kill all six Barons PP chances, push the contest to a shootout, and escape with the much coveted two points. OKC earned one, but man oh man, did they need two.
The first period begin with a semi-silly bank shot by Curtis Hamilton that snuck around Amerks starting goaltender, David Leggio (who’s plus 50 in the number of starts this season). Adding to the bizarre and perhaps lucky nature of this goal is that it came in the first :43 of the first period. The Barons take a 1-0 lead. They’d eventually drop ten total shots on net, compared to the Amerks six, and only the Barons were able to hit the scoreboard. The lone penalty of the first period, from Martin Marincin, kept the pace pretty quick, but both teams seemed just a bit sloppy to begin the game. 1-0 was your first period scoreboard.
In the second, the Barons would again find the back of the net, but in a more traditional fashion. Instead of a flukey goal in the beginning portion of the period, *Ben Eager would wrestle the puck off the wall, make a great pass to Toni Rajala, who then made an even greater pass to Anton Lander. Lander nested the puck behind Leggio, and the carryover of emotion for OKC would put them ahead 2-0. But as we’ve seen before, even with opportunity knocking the Barons seem to lose games late by struggling in all facets of the game. With Rochester barreling down on a Barons team just hanging around, Adam Pardy would score the first of the game for the Americans near the seven minute mark of the second period. That four on four goal would be all she wrote for the second period. A 2-1 Barons lead after two would only propel the Americans into the third period.
Phil Varone would score for Rochester in the opening minute to tie the game. The Barons would be given three straight power play opportunities (half of the total for the entire game) while they themselves committed none. But eventually the wicked good penalty kill of the Amerks suffocated the Barons puck movement. At times it appeared they were unsure what to do, and perhaps the lack in a confident “QB” kept things from revving up. Nonetheless, the two teams would head to overtime tied 2-2 as both David Leggio and Yann Danis played solid in the final twenty minutes.
In overtime, the Barons would take six high quality shots, be given a power play opportunity for nearly a minute, but were unable to make good on Rochetser errors. To a shootout we go.
Here are your results:
Patrick Rissmiller No Goal
Brayden McNabb No Goal
Jonathan Parker No Goal
Mark Mancari No Goal
Alex Biega Goal
Oklahoma City Shootout
Josh Green No Goal
Philippe Cornet No Goal
Mark Arcobello No Goal
Toni Rajala No Goal
Jonathan Cheechoo No Goal
Yann stopped four straight, but usually steady, Josh Green, started things off poorly as the Barons missed five straight.
The Rochester Americans would take the two points away from Oklahoma City when the Barons desperately needed the full two themselves.
*Ben Eager played surprisingly well in the last forty minutes of the game. Virtually non-existent in the first period, he finally was able t gain some ground after making a dynamite play along the wall to get the puck up the ice to Toni Rajala, who eventually fed Anton Lander for a Barons goal. Eager played the “off wing” position (RW), and seemed perfectly unaffected by the switcheroo. In game one, where I openly questioned his presence on the second line, he did very well. Color me impressed after one. Jury still out.