Workin’ For The Weekend: Abbotsford Heat at Oklahoma City Barons “Kidney Bingos”

The progression of 70’s punk bands to the post-punk age of the early 80’s was a treacherous time for most groups. I’ve often wondered if those groups, and more specifically their individual parts, realized that the burgenoing punk scene was, and always will be, a young man’s game. The great tragedy is that in order for the the sound to transform, they would have to step out of the way. This has often been said of film directors. Even the greats realize that there is a season of boundary pushing, and there is a season where someone else other than you does it.

One of the unheralded bands of the late 70’s and 80’s was Wire. The English foursome was influential in every way – lyrically, musically, asthetically – and then they changed. It was okay, because the time had come, and they were to move on.

The threesome of Pink Flag, Chairs Missing, and 154 are about as fierce a punk rock outing as they come. Mixing blues and punk were their specialty, and this would haunt their catalog long after their prime.

Flash forward to 1988, and the EP Kidney Bingos. Let’s be honest, this is a weird song. It just is. The lyrics are probably metaphorical in nature, but only the author really knows what that metaphor is, and then you realize the jokes on you. To embrace Wire is to embrace a sound, a vibe, a musical expression that is different, yet familiar.

The song, “Kidney Bingos”, was a far cry from the punk of the 70’s that Wire had become well known for. They softened. Again, age does that to you. And with this late 80’s torch ballad with punk lyrics attached, you can really draw meaning as you see fit.

Two consecutive, hard-fought, well-earned wins for the Barons on the season, and suddenly it feels like Oklahoma City hockey has meaning. It is taking shape in front of us…maybe. It’s still early, and like Wire, the season progresses with age, softens, and looks more like the comfort zone we fans have grown to love. The sweet spot if you will. A two-game tangle with Abbotsford means the thickening of the skin continues. And, please, don’t play kidney bingo, that sounds painful.

Oh those Abbotsford Heat folk. Not quite a rivalry (although the Oilers/Flames tendencies for rivalry are there), but always a spitting contest, when the Heat and the Barons square off it’s usually a doozy.

The truth is that the series has long been one sided. The Heat and Barons have faced each other sixteen times. OKC has won twelve of those outings. Ironically, the Barons have owned them on Abbotsford ice (7-1), and been slightly less successful on OKC ice (5-3). But don’t be fooled, these are always games with a cantankerous spirit.

The Heat are quietly sitting in first place in the re-configured West Division, but realize that two teams have yet to play four games prior to Friday. That’s not to discredit the Heat. A three goal victory on opening night against Lake Erie, a loss to Erie the next night, an overtime victory Milwaukee, and finally a shoot-out loss to Milwaukee have begun the Heat on a spiral towards temporary stardom.

Having graduated a wholebuncha players post-lockout, the Flames are looking to reload from within. Roman Horak stands out as a familiar face, but the addition of collegiate forwards and such has the Heat looking vastly different to the club we watched a year ago. Three rookies currently pave the way in points scored. Ben Hanowski, a former Penguins prospect, Josh Jooris from Union College, and Corban Knight, a U. of North Dakota grad, have surged to the front of the pack in the early throws of the AHL season.

Defensively, they are young and inexperienced, and sometimes that is a deadly combination. Not knowing what to expect can be a challenge. Joni Ortio and Reto Berra aren’t household names, but they’ll do the heavy lifting in net. Thus far we have seen Berra in all four games, and he’s made 112 saves with a percentage of .933. He is one to watch.

Defensively the batch of noobs is led by familiar foe, Mark Cundari (formerly of formerly Peoria). Like Oklahoma City, the Heat’s NHL counter part is banking on the good play of the youngsters in the AHL to one day equal NHL pay dirt. Again, like Oklahoma City, we’ll see.

Speaking of Oklahoma City, they are ready to go. After a pretty heady win in OT on Tuesday night, they’ve rested, practiced, and remained at home while they awaited Abbotsford Heat this weekend.

No updates on Ryan Martindale, but the going thought is that he is still nursing that knee injury, and thus Joel Broda stays with the team. Broda, recently signed via PTO from Bakersfield, wasn’t all that terrible in his first game as a Baron. Martindale is probably the upgrade, but Broda will do.

In the meantime, I can envision a split of the goaltenders this weekend with Bachman on Friday and Roy on Saturday. Coming off a really nice performance on Tuesday, Richard can continue to win fans with his smart positioning and quick glove. Roy too can make some headway.

Defensively the Barons are still jam packed nightly with picks to enter the lineup. The defensive core has been a bit awkward at times, but we are starting to slowly see them gel. The same goes for the forward lines, but it is certainly more noticeable in the game-to-game pairings. Klefbom is improving. Marincin is still wildly up and down. Fedun and Davidson appear to be taking the next step. Gernat and Musil continue to be serious works in progress. Regardless, two games against another youthfully exuberant team might be what this group needs to test the waters.

Both games are at the Cox Center in downtown Oklahoma City. Friday and Saturday games begin roughly at 7:00pm, so make plans on be their early. Bring a friend. Have a great time.