Needing just one point to officially clinch a playoff spot in the Calder Cup postseason, the Barons manhandled the Abbtosford Heat at the Cox Center on Saturday night. The low scoring game the night before fueled a heated statement towards the end of Friday’s affair. The rosters for both teams, 24 hours later, reflected a potential carryover of angst. For starters, Darcy Hordichuk and Be Eager played left and right to Tanner House’s center. We’ve seen this configuration before, but only in the event that punishing blows were needed, and that hasn’t been often. Those three would get heavy time on ice to start the game, and they were able to give a statement early even if that statement wasn’t entirely clear.
The Barons did something on Saturday that they couldn’t on Friday, and that’s score early. But it wasn’t just early scoring that resurrected a Barons eventual victory, it was the frequency of the scoring.
Three goals in each of the last two periods demonstrated the fervor with which OKC wants to enter postseason play. Four goals in under twenty minutes is hard to counter attack, even with super goaltending.
Chris Vande Velde scored the opening goal, and added another to his total later in the third period. Jonathan Cheechoo added two more on back to back chances in the second period, both on the power play. C.J. Stretch would add another power play goal to the teams total of three for the night, and Martin Marincin and Tyler Pitlick chipped in a goal a piece to put the goal total at seven.
It was a defining game, really, for the Barons whom needed to continue to climb the peak of success at the right time. And this makes them a dangerous team – they are playing their best hockey of the year in late April.
Almost 40 shots, 3/4 on the PP, 2/2 on the PK, and some heads up play from everyone on the ice (defenders included), this was a fantastic way to earn two points, and lock down a playoff spot. The Oklahoma City Barons would defeat the Abbotsford Heat 7-3, and earn a spot in the postseason.
The question now becomes “where” will the team be seeded, and they really hold this decision in the palm of their hands. With the various scenarios, the Barons could finish anywhere from 5th to 8th, with opponents being Texas, Toronto, Grand Rapids, and Charlotte. But regardless of today’s outcome, the Barons will open the Calder Cup playoffs at home as a part of the 2-3 best of five format. The “lesser” team plays the first two at home. Following the first round series, the league re-seeds the teams, and they’ll play the standard best of seven.
Houston at Barons this afternoon at four, and it should be another high stakes adventure. Go Barons!