Photo by Steven Christy
Among a sea of elementary school children at the annual “School Day” game, the Oklahoma City Barons with Tyler Bunz playing superbly well, won a pretty good outing against the San Antonio Rampage. There was Taylor Swift music, science experiments at breaks, boxed lunches, long lines at the restroom, screeching/yelling/shouting, and it was a pretty perfect day.
The annual “Kids Day” game is an incredible opportunity for the Barons to showcase both their love of community, and their love of team. Regardless of outcome, the day is always a victory in many ways.
Ilya Bryzgalov, although practicing with the team, would get one more chance to watch as a healthy scratched Oiler goaltender while Tyler Bunz saw his second straight start with the Oklahoma City Barons. Suffering a defeat on Saturday, but playing a really good game, he would again face the San Antonio Rampage. He would again be really good, but with a far better outcome. On the Rampage side it was Jacob Markstrom, recently returning from the Florida Panthers, and he too would be good, just not good enough.
The first period strength leaned towards the Rampage who would take thirteen shots to the Barons, but OKC was pretty bent on surviving the period thanks to their prospect goaltender in Bunz. He would be absolutely fantastic for his team, and the real reason why they would end the period with a score of 0-0. The penalties were low for both teams (each team only assesed two minutes per squad), and the pace was furious. OKC did their best forecheck of the season in the final moments of the game thanks to a fourth line with Travis Ewanyk and Kale Kessy, who continue to go unnoticed by the masses, but an integral part of the team nonetheless.
In the second, both teams would earn a goal, but in completely different ways. Oklahoma City defender, Martin Gernat, would receive a pass from David Musil, and then whiz the puck from blue line to stick tape of Anton Lander. Lander would shuck and jive and score the first goal of the game to put the Barons up a goal early in the second period. With OKC firmly in control, San Antonio would score their first power play goal of the year on the road (yes, that’s possible). Ryan Whitney would take a heavy shot from the blue line that would be guided in by Bobby Butler, and the Rampage tied the game. Multiple penalties for both teams slowed the pace down just a bit, but both goaltenders would be strong. The second period would come to close with a tie game.
As the third period began the Barons would again score in the opening minutes of a period. Martin Marincin would keep the puck in the offensive zone for OKC, rifle a shot on net, and somehow newcomer Roman Horak would be on the goaltenders doorstep with a rebounded goal. His third of the season, first as a Baron, opened the door just enough for OKC to take the lead, 2-1. In heavy traffic, Ryan Whitney would take a long distance shot on Bunz that somehow eased around the goaltender. The Rampage would give up a goal early, then return the favor late in a period for the second twenty minutes of play.
Knotted at two all, as the game neared the seventeen minute mark, Linus Omark carefully dangled the puck in a circle, surged down the center of the ice with the puck going backwards between his legs, and score the game winning goal around Markstrom. The acrobatic nature of this goal (seen here in GIF form) was one of the best he’s attempted in recent memory.
The Barons would hold down the fort defensively and in net, and would win the game 3-2 earning Tyler Bunz his first AHL victory in two starts. He earned it, and perhaps this is a turning point in the youngsters career. Fingers crossed.