Photo Courtesy of Steven Christy. All Rights Reserved.
Last night featured a rematch between the Oklahoma City Barons and the Charlotte Checkers during the American Hockey League’s opening weekend. On Friday night, the Barons dropped the first of the two-game set with a 3-2 score against Charlotte and Justin Peters in net. Mike Murphy got the start for the Checkers against Richard Bachman for the Barons. Many lineup changes occurred for the Barons with Anton Lander out after he took a hit towards the end of Friday night’s game, and other substitutions by the coaching staff. Ryan Martindale took the reigns as first-line center between Linus Omark and Derek Nesbitt. His gap was filled by Tyler Pitlick, making a return to the center spot, while Ben Eager, Andrew Miller, Oscar Klefbom, and David Musil also made their season debuts last night.
Things started off rocky for the Barons for the second night in a row, with an early goal coming from the Checkers, but this one came on a power play after the Barons were called for too many men. Mark Flood received a pass at the point from Chris Terry, fired it past Bachman, and gave the Checkers a 1-0 lead at 3:09, with the second assist coming from Aaron Palushaj. We finally saw the gloves drop last night as Kale Kessy and Keegan Lowe re-making acquaintances (they previously fought twice in a single game in 2010), and Kessy coming away with the decision. The fireworks continued as Erick Lizon dropped the gloves with Nicolas Blanchard, and Lizon keeping the Barons undefeated in fights with his earning of the decision as well. Shots were a bit more even on this night in the first period, with the Checkers having only an 11-9 advantage.
It was a bit more one-sided in the second period though, with Charlotte doubling up the shots 12-6. The lone goal in the frame went the Checkers’ way as well, with Zach Boychuk earning a breakaway following a turnover by the Barons. Boychuk was able to get Bachman to go low and out of the way as he put it in the net to make it a 2-0 Charlotte lead. After being unable to convert on a Lowe holding penalty, the Barons ended the second period on the PK after Taylor Fedun was charged with a four-minute variety of high-sticking.
An unlikely start to the third gave the Barons some life, as Tyler Pitlick came in on a shorthanded two-on-one and ripped the puck five-hole past Murphy and got things going for OKC at the :57 mark of the period. For Pitlick, it was his first AHL shorthanded goal, and came well ahead of his pace last season where he didn’t get his first goal until his 21st game of the season. After an unsuccessful power play by Oklahoma City, the Checkers extended the lead once more as Palushaj added a goal to his two assists, scoring on a once-again falling Bachman, and getting a 3-1 score for Charlotte.
Boychuk was charged with a slashing call at 16:04, and this time the Barons capitalized to earn themselves a slight chance at coming back. Seconds before the penalty expired, Ryan Martindale picked up a Taylor Fedun rebound and put it past Murphy at the 18:00 mark. But a Philip Larsen slashing call at 19:28 iced the game for the Barons as they fell to 0-2-0-0 on the season.
Some takeaways from today’s game, Tyler Pitlick has greatly picked up his game from last season, and has already shown he’s going to be a force to reckon with this season. Travis Ewanyk is playing the fourth-line center role perfectly and the fourth-line is doing what it needs to as the “energy” line. Anton Lander was listed as day-to-day following last night’s game. Sounds like he’ll be ready to go next weekend against Iowa, but that remains to be seen. Friday night saw the three oldest players wearing the A’s as the team has yet to name a captain. Ryan Jones, Matthew Ford, and Derek Nesbitt wore them Friday night. Last night, it was Brandon Davidson, Taylor Fedun, and Linus Omark wearing the A’s on the chest.
Next weekend, the Barons travel to Des Moines, Iowa to take on the Iowa Wild for the first time this season in a two-game weekend set. First game takes place on Saturday with a 7:05 Central/6:05 Mountain time start.
Linus Omark – Ryan Martindale – Derek Nesbitt
Ryan Jones – C.J. Stretch – Andrew Miller
Ben Eager – Tyler Pitlick – Matthew Ford
Kale Kessy – Travis Ewanyk – Erick Lizon
Brandon Davidson – Philip Larsen
Oscar Klefbom – David Musil
Martin Marincin – Taylor Fedun