Oklahoma City Barons Vs. Grand Rapids Griffins Preview: Michi-Hate

Grand Rapids vs. Oklahoma City Barons 2-9-13
Photo by Rob Ferguson

Growing up an Ohioan I was bred to hate Michigan, not just the school, but the entire state. Born in Cincinnati, groomed by a family residing in Columbus, I believe that I entered this world humming marching band vinyl interpretations of TBDBITL (tOSU marching band for those unsure of the abbreviation). Yet I spent time in Michigan thanks to a father whom sold pharmaceuticals products for that region of the world. Lansing and Grand Rapids were briefly home, and I suddenly saw the Michigan-hate facade crumble, and I found value in a beautiful state in the upper United States.

Don’t tell my family and friends that I wrote that paragraph, let them continue to assume I hate Michigan. Yet good grief, ’tis a great place.

Louis Campau lived among the Ottawa Indians along the Grand River in the year of 1826. He was a relatively simple man, hard-working, a blacksmith by trade, a trader by necessity, but resilient in his impact in the Northern U.S. As time passed, Campau found value in goods being traded along the great rivers and lakes that surrounded his humble dwelling. Ten years prior he created an important trading post that would later be known as Saginaw. He’d take the simple principles of trading goods for other goods, and enact a similar trading post further south. When a tract of 72 acres became available, he snatched it from the reigning government (which had been snatched from the natives) for $90. He was a pioneer, a trailblazer, a hard working community builder. He was the founding father of Grand Rapids.

182 years later, along that same river, in that same $90 tract, lies the Van Andel Arena, home to the Grand Rapids Griffins hockey club.

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AHL Western Conference Finals, Barons vs. Griffins Full Schedule

AHL Hockey: Feb 08 Barons vs Griffins
Glendening by name, scoring goals by game. Photo by Steven Christy.

The finals are here, and they begin Friday the 24th in Grand Rapids. For those unaware, the Griffins seemed to be solidly in charge against the Toronto Marlies in the quarterfinals, stumbled a bit, but then resurrected in the third period of Game 6 to advance to the Finals. This one will be interesting simply because Grand Rapids is playing some mighty fine offensive hockey right now, and they are a swarming offense. Things likely to give Yann Danis and the defensive core of the Barons a workout. Full preview on its way.

In the meantime, here’s the sked of games including start times (Central Time Zone).

Games 1 and 2 of the best-of-7 Western Conference Finals are scheduled in Grand Rapids on Friday, May 24 and Saturday, May 25 at 6 p.m. (ct). The series shifts to Oklahoma City for games on Wednesday, May 29, Friday, May 31 and Saturday, June 1. Should Games 6 and 7 be necessary, they would be played in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, June 4 and Wednesday, June 5. A complete schedule is listed below:

Game 1 May 24 Oklahoma City @ Grand Rapids 6 p.m.

Game 2 May 25 Oklahoma City @ Grand Rapids 6 p.m.

Game 3 May 29 Grand Rapids@ Oklahoma City 7 p.m.

Game 4 May 31 Grand Rapids @ Oklahoma City 7 p.m.

*Game 5 June 1 Grand Rapids @ Oklahoma City 7 p.m.

*Game 6 June 4 Oklahoma City @ Grand Rapids 6 p.m.

*Game 7 June 5 Oklahoma City @ Grand Rapids 6 p.m.

How You Can Help Oklahoma After Today’s Tornadoes

Oklahoma needs your help. Here’s how…

Living in Oklahoma, tornadoes are a part of the deal. Although not listed in your renters agreement, hotel paperwork, or home closing documents, enduring tornado season is the life of an Oklahoman.

In May of 1999, a week before I graduated from high school, I survived one of the most horrific natural disasters my eyes had ever seen. I still think of those moments, and my brain can’t fully compute what my eyes saw.

Almost 15 years later, my eyes saw a similar scene, and again I struggle to accurately process what I’ve seen first hand, watched on television, and digested through phone calls, emails, and social media. It’s 1999 all over again, and it’s horrifying.

As many around the interwebs have mentioned, there are various ways in which you can help the relief efforts in my home state. What does relief mean? Simply put, various groups in Oklahoma will search, clean up, feed, clothe, rebuild, and rework the areas effected by today’s tornado. Those things cost money, and you can help. Here’s how.

Red Cross

The Oklahoma Red Cross is asking people to donate by texting Red Cross to 90999 which will be a $10 donation. In Canada REDCROSS to 30333 donates $5.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army Disaster Relief
P.O. Box 12600, Oklahoma City, OK 73157.

Designate Oklahoma Tornado Relief on all checks.

Donate by phone: 800-725-2769
Text: STORM to 80888
Donate online: donate.salvationarmyusa.org/uss/eds/aok

Feed The Children

Feed The Children is preparing emergency disaster relief supplies and will be accepting donations from the public on Tuesday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the McCormick Distribution Center, 29 N McCormick.

Items that will be accepted are diapers, canned goods, nonperishable food and snack items, water and sports drinks.

Cash donations to help with relief efforts can be made by phone at 800-627-4556 or online at www.feedthechildren.org/disaster.

Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief

This organization says donations will “go straight to help those in need providing tree removal services, laundry services and meals to victims of disasters.”

It is requesting monetary donations (It says clothing is NOT needed).
For more information, and to donate, visit Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief’s website.

You can send checks to:
BGCO Attn: Disaster Relief
3800 N. May Ave
Oklahoma City, OK 73112

NHL Games, Nothing New To Oklahoma City

The last time the Edmonton Oilers played in OKC, this guy was there. Photo via NHL.com
The last time the Edmonton Oilers played in OKC, this guy was there. Photo via NHL.com

The Edmonton Oilers will travel way south to face the Texas Stars this September. It’s not as far south as Dallas, but it’s a trip. A trip that I hope the NHL, the AHL, and Oklahoma City all find useful in their own imaginative way. This, however, isn’t the first time that an NHL game has been played in Oklahoma City. Since 1990, Oklahoma City has played host to four different NHL games, ironically enough, one featured the Edmonton Oilers.

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Preseason Dallas Stars Vs. Edmonton Oilers To Be Played In OKC

AHL Hockey: Nov 02 Barons vs Aeros
He’s baaaaaack! Photo by Steven Christy.

UPDATE: Dallas Stars CEO, Jim Lites, mentions to Mike Heika of the Dallas News, “The Stars are close to completing a deal that is expected to produce a four-day training camp at the Fort Worth Convention Center Sept. 11-14 and also would include preseason games in San Antonio and Oklahoma City,” Lites said. “We’ve had a long-standing relationship with Fox Sports Southwest, and we’re very interested in making ourselves the Hockey Team of Texas, and really the entire Southwest,’’ Lites continued. “We’d love to expand our footprint from New Orleans to Tulsa to Houston and beyond. We want to get people excited about the Dallas Stars.’’

h/t to Josh Lile for the article

Due to the Tornadoes in the OKC area this week, I’d presume that the Barons have postponed their announcement of this game. Hard to celebrate anything with much fanfare at the current time. More to come.

Where there’s smoke there’s fire, and where there’s people in suits talking about NHL hockey in Oklahoma City, there’s a preseason game to be played. It appears that this Wednesday, the Barons, alongside the Edmonton Oilers and Dallas Stars, will announce that a late September 2013 preseason game will place the Oilers vs the Stars in Oklahoma City. One year removed from the NHL lockout, and NHL players migrating to the various farm teams, Oklahoma City will again play host to players from the greatest hockey league in the world.

The Dallas Stars, scheduled to play a September 20th preseason game against the Florida Panthers perhaps in San Antonio (Rampage are the farm team), will make the I-35 trek northward to Oklahoma City presumably the week of September 20-27.

This is exciting news if you’re a fan of hockey in the state of Oklahoma (and Texas by extension). The timing is also pretty interesting given the current state of attendance for Oklahoma City Barons hockey games, which has somehow wiggled itself into last place in both regular and post season numbers in 2013.

This might give a boost in attendance, it might not. Historically speaking, OKC has hosted at least four NHL events of this nature since 1990, and all were poorly attended by high-end NHL market standards despite the build up. More to come on that, at this site, in the coming days.

Regardless, this is a huge announcement for Oklahoma City, and hopefully Oilers fans find value in it as well (tough sell, I know).  Official word will be made on Wednesday at 2:00pm, I’ll assume the public is invited, but we’ll wait and see.

Is The Cox Center In Long-Term Plans For The Barons?

Checkers vs. Oklahoma City Barons 1-11-13
Photo by Rob Ferguson.

Much has been said about the Oklahoma City Barons attendance. Some positive, but a lot of it negative. Warranted? I don’t really think so. I’d like to think that a team like the Oilers would care a lot more about the results on the ice, than the results in the box office, especially when it’s no secret that the players love the area and playing here. But let’s face it, when you’re across the street from the Oklahoma City Thunder and a block from the downtown entertainment district that also includes a Triple-A baseball diamond, there are many other things fighting for the dollar in the area.

There has been talk of a new convention center being built in downtown OKC with the passage of the latest MAPS (Metropolitan Area Projects) measure, and many think that it is set to replace the Cox Convention Center, current home of the Barons. The Cox is a bit unique for a convention center in that it has an arena built in, and the meeting rooms and conference rooms are built around said arena.

Ground broke for the building in 1970, officially opened in 1972, and was the go-to arena in Oklahoma City. Over the years, it has served as the home of the Oklahoma City Blazers (Central Hockey League), Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz (Af2 arena football), and other sports events, as well as housing four NHL games (regular and preseason) through its existence before becoming the home of the Barons in 2010. Able to seat 15,000 fans for concerts, that’s cut down to 13,399 for hockey though the Barons curtain off half of that to have a capacity of 7,500. Despite receiving $4.5 million in upgrades prior to the Barons arrival, it’s becoming more obvious that the building may be too big and is becoming too old, and may not even be available in the coming years should they decide to replace it. So that brings up, do you build a new arena, where do you put it, and would it be viable?

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Oklahoma City Barons Win Game Five, 5-1. West Finals Ahoy!

Nilstorp Goal In
Sorry, Cris. Photo by Rob Ferguson

Game five. At home. A chance to clinch a spot in the Western Conference Finals for a second straight season.

Knowing those things, it’s quite remarkable what happened in the Cox Center on Thursday night. The Oklahoma City Barons would score five straight goals to dominate the number one seed (West) in the Calder Cup playoffs, and leave the ice with another trip to the West Finals to face either the Toronto Marlies or the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Absolutely incredible is the only way I can explain what the Barons have done in the past week. Three straight victories against a very good Texas Stars hockey team with great coaching, sharp young forwards, solid defensive posturing, and first-round-other-worldly goaltending. To knock out that team in only five games, out score them 16-4 in the final three, and continue a run that has surprised so many, again, is absolutely incredible.

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Clinch! Oklahoma City One Win Away From Return To West Finals

Josh Green CVV Joy
Now that’s joy. Photo by Steven Christy.

Oregon native, successful NCAA track and field coach, and three-time decorated Olympian, Bill Dellinger, once said of long distance running, “Good things come slow – especially at a distance”. If you’ve ever run a distance greater than to “the corner and back” you know this statement to be true. What you may not realize is how much weight this statement has in virtually every part of the sports world. Dellinger isn’t asking us to be slow or move slowly, but to see the end before the race begins. Know your destination, focus on it, stay the course, be prudent, be productive, accomplish that task.

To begin the season of farm play in Oklahoma City, prior to the inevitable NHL lockout, the going mantra was “Unfinished Business”. So many on the Barons/Oilers had accomplished a great deal in the 2011-2012 season, and there was a public outcry to go much further than they did in the previous season. That was the goal. Bill Scott assembled the pieces, Todd Nelson maneuvered bodies throughout the lineup, and here lies the Oklahoma City Barons on the doorstep of a potential spot in the Western Conference Finals – that’s if they can beat the Texas Stars first. One more game, one more victory, and another step on the path towards seeing a bit of redemption on the farm.

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Lowdown With Lowetide Featuring Tend The Farm

The one where I talk about Barney! Oh, and minor league hockey. Huge thanks to Allan for having me on, and I look forward to doing it again VERY soon. Begin listening at 19:00 of May 15th, hour one (or listen to all of them!)