Photo by Patricia Teter.
After a scoreless effort on Saturday night, the Oklahoma City Barons again faced the Iowa Wild less than 24 hours later. They’d fare quite a bit better, score some goals, including two on a lengthy power play, and win their first game of the season.
Darcy Kuemper, freshly returned to Iowa after a recent call-up to Minnesota, would get the start for the Wild. At the opposite end is Olivier Roy, making his first start of the season on the heels of three straight losses from fellow Barons tender, Richard Bachman.
The first period felt strangely familiar. The Wild pressing hard, taking calculated risks with the puck, and the Barons semi-sleep walking their way through twenty minutes of play. It wasn’t all that bad for OKC, however, as the top line of Linus Omark, Anton Lander, and Tyler Pitlick ran the puck aggressively at times. But they would be denied a goal in the first period. Instead, Iowa would take an early lead on a Dave Steckel even strength goal in the first five minutes of play. A pair of two minute penalties in the first period gave both squads a chance on the power play, but both kill units did a pretty solid job. After one period, the score would favor the Wild, 1-0.
The second period finally saw the Oklahoma City Barons unleash some offense. Both second period goals by the Barons were care of Derek Nesbitt. Ryan Martindale would record assists on both goals with Andrew Miller and Martin Gernat adding helpers of their own. The Barons finally found the back of the net in a world where the offense took place mostly outside of a 15 foot halo in front of the goaltender. Finally finding the seams, striking the net, and using Ryan Martindale as an admirable centerman all led to a two goal second period and a momentary lead. It was Brett Bulmer, scoring his second of the weekend series, following some bad puck play by Oscar Klefbom along the wall. The second period would end with a 2-2 tie, but with some offense being given the spotlight.
The highlight (or lowlight) of the third period was a nasty head check laid on Linus Omark by the Wild’s Jason Zucker (see it here). After being bumped off the puck nicely by Tyler Pitlick, Zucker skated around the rink looking for someone to hit, and eventually dialed in on Linus Omark. The hit resulted in a match penalty, 10:00 misconduct, and probably a suspension. (h/t to @JLGrey42 for reminding me of the nasty Marincin hit on Zucker in 2010) For the Barons, the major penalty resulted in lengthy power play. It also earned OKC two goals, and a victory. Anton Lander scored halfway through the third (with assists from Nesbitt and, of course, Linus Omark), and less than a minute later Ryan Jones added another (with a helper from Andrew Miller).
It was the first win of the season for the Oklahoma City Barons, and it was a hard fought battle. Thanks to a pair of power play goals, and some better-than-yesterday defense, the team escaped the weekend with a 1/1 split. Way to score some goals, boys.
Tonight’s lines, pairs, starting goaltender:
– Towards the end of the game, Ryan Martindale had an awkward encounter near the benches resulting in what appeared to be a knee injury. You’ll recall that Martindale suffered a knee injury in a game against Houston last season, had surgery to fix the issue, and has seemed fine since. Let’s hope this is nothing.
– Andrew Miller playing wing had me worried, but tonight he looked a lot better. I fully expect him to flank Martindale UNTIL the need for another center comes about via call-up or injury. Tonight, he aided on three goals. Well done. It’s Miller time.
– Roy played well, but not great. Bachman, coming off a heroic 1-0 defeat, was handcuffed to an inefficient Barons offense. Roy got the luck of the draw, and started a night the Barons score some goals. Two goals allowed on 30 shots, I’m okay with that.
– Nesbitt was supposed to be the scoring ringer the Barons needed. Tonight we saw just that. Two goals and one assist? Yes please.
– The Omark hit will likely be reviewed by the league, but with no lingering injury, we may not see a suspension. That’s a goofy way of going about things, but it’s life. If I had to guess, it would be one, two games, tops, if there indeed is a suspension handed out. Monday is an “off” day in the league, so expect the news to come swiftly if it indeed comes.