After a heart-breaking sudden death overtime loss, the Oklahoma City Barons looked for a bit of redemption in game two of their quarterfinal series against the Charlotte Checkers.
Redemption is a dish best served with five straight goals.
Mark Arcobello would score a hat trick in the third period en route to a Barons steam rolling victory over the Checkers, thus escaping the dreaded “gotta win three straight” scenario that occurs when you play a quick, five game series.
The first period was a complete flip flop of both team’s performances the night before. On Friday, it was the Barons triumphantly poaching the center of the offensive zone, and taking every chance to rifle a shot. All while the Checkers played off their back foot. Completely mirror those instances and that’s what you had on Saturday evening.
Oklahoma City allowed a wide open canal for Charlotte to careen through with very little agitation. So much so that the Checkers jumped out to a 2-0 lead halfway through the first period on goals from Sean Dolan and Zach Boychuk. With the shots heavily favoring the away team at 20-5, it was a sight for sore eyes when Jonathan Cheechoo scored the first goal of the evening for the Barons with around three minutes remaining in the period. Assists care of Toni Rajala and Mark Arcobello ended the period with the Checkers on top 2-1.
From the second period onward, OKC would score four more unanswered goals including three straight in the third by Mark Arcobello. Randy Jones netted his first of the season, playoff or otherwise, to pummel the Checkers into submission.
Very few penalties, some smart coaching, and some fabulous goaltending by Yann Danis propelled the Barons offensively towards an eventual 5-2 victory as they’d take the series back to Charlotte with a game a piece.
Oklahoma City Barons Lineup For Game #2
Toni Rajala – Mark Arcobello – Jonathan Cheechoo
Philippe Cornet – Chris VandeVelde – Teemu Hartikainen
Josh Green – C.J. Stretch – Tyler Pitlick
Ben Eager – Tanner House – Antti Tyrvainen
Martin Marincin – Taylor Fedun
Brandon Davidson – Garrett Stafford
Randy Jones – Alex Plante
Dan Ringwald (injured), Darcy Hordichuk (extra vet), Kendall McFaull, Nathan Deck, Curtis Hamilton, Ryan Martindale, Joey Leach, Kristians Pelss, Andrew Hotham, Colten Teubert
Mark Arcobello was a lightning rod tonight. He struck quickly and with force, and earned three goals in a span of less than ten minutes in one period. That’s a magical, golden hockey stick in the hands of young Mark. Attaboy.
Rob Madore, again showing poise, got clubbed over the head in this one. His movement was great, and the poise still seemed prevalent. He just couldn’t keep up. His desire to drop to his knees quickly, was exploited towards the back half of the game, and everyone on the Barons sideline noticed it. A great example of this is via Martin Marincin, who didn’t score, but took all three of his shots high, and stick side. More of that please.
The Barons kill unit was spot on this evening stopping all three attempts, but the power play still looked way too vanilla. No one wanted to park in front of the net, and the point men weren’t nudging themselves into the play enough. Five on five, the Barons looked great most of the night. With an extra skater, they looked pretty bad.
Alex Plante took a puck to the face this evening, and appeared to be absent for much of the final moments of the game. No word on his status. (Get ready, Colten Teubert).
Toni Rajala, with two assists tonight, was pulling offense out of thin air. Much like Nail Yakupov or Linus Omark, he has a knack for dynamic, scary good play. He touches the puck, and you wait for good things to happen. Twice tonight he made incredible plays to set up goals, and he continues to look even better as the season rolls on.
The defensive pairs went unchanged over last night, and after a fifteen minute swath of play that exposed their youth, they got better. They made adjustments to their angles, and seemingly handled the pressure of being down two goals very well.
The series now heads to Charlotte tied a game a piece. The next game will be played on Wednesday, 6CT.