Easily the most elegant of the dancing disciplines is the waltz. Delicate and fluid, it’s a dance of slow interaction, but technically beautiful. Working in one heated, passionately flowing heave, partners work as a team to gracefully move from point A to point B and back again.
It’s such a rare ocassion that I’d cross the Oklahoma City Barons with a dancing reference, but when it fits, it fits. And tonight they’d defeat the Hamilton Bulldogs by a score of 4-1 where everything looked magical on the ice (okay, almost everything).
In the pre-game comment portion of the radio broadcast, Barons Coach Todd Nelson made mention of a Josh Green injury. Calling it an upper-body injury without any further specifics, Nelson was careful to point out that the Barons captain was closely being checked out by doctors. If you’ll recall, following the home opener, Josh Green suffered a rib injury that sidelined him for a pretty lengthy duration. It appears that’s reared its ugly head once again.
So without the recently traded Dane Byers, the upper body injured Josh Green, and the ankle impaired Colten Teubert – the Barons would play one fine game.
An unsettling first period by Oklahoma City and Hamilton had brief moments of excitement, but not much else to applaud. With Yann Danis needing to gain a full head of steam, it was nice not seeing him give up a goal early. It also helped his cause that he only faced two shots the entire period. A scoreless first period initially had me worried.
In the second period, it took fifteen and a half minutes for someone to score. And that scored goal was strangely concocted. A Toni Rajala shot rebounded off starting Hamilton goaltender, Robert Mayer. Teemu Hartikainen picked it up and it was again rebounded off the goaltender. But the third time is a charm as the final 1/3 of the second scoring line, Chris VandeVelde, put the puck in the net. And the Barons would take a 1-0 lead. Several minutes later, Bulldog’s left winger, Kevin Hagel notched his first goal of the season, and the equalizer. After forty minutes the game was tied one all.
Then the waltz began it’s final approach to grandeur. Oklahoma City would rattle off the go-ahead goal care of Jonathan Cheechoo halfway through the final period. A pair of empty netters by Brandon Davidson and Tanner House further shut the door tightly.
Woven throughout the entire game was the exceptional special teams – namely the penalty kill. Killing all four penalties on the night, the Barons were able to attach themselves to the right side of the odds, and prevent the Bulldogs from making any play towards redemption. And that’s good news. Other good news? 0/23 in seven games – that’s the overall PP total for opposition facing the Barons of late. In case you missed it, the Barons have killed 23 straight penalties over a seven game stretch. Incredible number. They are bound and determined to pull themselves out of the worst pk category.
And so the dance ends, the crowd roars with applause, and the performers take a bow. Now the real question is this. After posting perfect “10’s” can you do it again? We’ll know soon enough.