Having not won back to back games since mid-October, the Oklahoma City Barons faced off against their divisional rival, the Texas Stars, in a Thanksgiving Eve battle. The game was about a consistent offense in Texas squaring off against a not-yet fully realized Barons core. From goaltending to defensive posturing to forward puck possession – Oklahoma City is a bit wobbly. However, the time to climb the peak is now, and a win against a divisional rival might nudge the Barons back to .500 as we move into the Christmas season.
When the dust settled, Jason LaBarbera had a whale of a game stopping 39 of 41 shots, but the Barons were incapable of tilting the ice in their favor. The Stars spent huge chunks of time in the OKC zone, and this put way too much pressure on the defensive pairs as well as LaBarbera who was superb. And don’t discount Nilstorp at the other end, and his accompanied blue line because they played very well in their own right.
The Barons would lose to the Stars on Wednesday night, 2-1.
Oklahoma City starting lineup:
The first period pace was fast, sharp, disciplined, and unwavering for both clubs. Nilstorp vs. LaBarbera was in full effect, and the double digit shot totals by each team forced both net minders to be agile and awake. Toby Petersen had two magnificent scoring chances in the first ten minutes of the game, but JLB was ready. The final ten minutes swung the momentum the other direction with quality chances from the top line of Linus Omark, Anton Lander, and Andrew Miller. The first twenty minutes had no penalties, no goals scored, but well north of twenty combined shots in the game.
A quick high stick by Texas to begin the second period gave Oklahoma City a great opportunity on the power play. The opportunity was quickly wasted, and not a single shot was fired on net. The Barons would go on the kill after a Gernat tripping penalty. Texas would score with a man advantage as Colton Sceviour would handle the puck towards Chris Mueller who’d punch in a gaol around LaBarbera. The Stars take a 1-0 lead. Following the goal, Ben Eager would get hit into the boards and emerge holding his arm. Shoulder or elbow injury likely, and after only a shift and a half in the second he’d leave the ice and not return to the game. This shortened the bench just a bit for OKC. The Barons only mustered four shots the entire period while simultaneously giving away three straight power play chances. The period would end 1-0, in favor of the Stars.
At 5:39 of the third period Taylor Fedun would insert himself into the offense just enough to get a pass from Linus Omark. He’d shoot the puck around Nilstorp to tie the game at 1-1. The final fifteen minutes heavily favored the Stars as the Barons played far too much hockey in their own end. Colton Sceviour would score his fifteenth goal on the season to put the Stars back on top, and also deflate a bit of hope for OKC. The Barons would get a chance on the PP, but again struggled to gain confidence. In the end, the Stars had the more well-rounded game, and despite a fabulous night for LaBarbera the Barons would lose 2-1.