Ryan Hamilton Assigned To Oklahoma City, Where Does He Fit In?

Photo by Steven Christy. All rights reserved. 

Ryan Hamilton, playing winger for the Edmonton Oilers, seemingly was birthed into the Eakins system simply by default. Coach Eakins liked him in Toronto, let’s bring him over (along with Will Acton, but that’s for another post). He has only dressed in two games, recorded no goals, no assists, no shots, and a -2. He was never intended or expected to be an offensive juggernaut, but rather a third line checker. Most recently playing right wing, centered by Boyd Gordon, and flanked by Mark Arcobello, Ryan will be an interesting fit in Oklahoma City. But where?

Capable of playing left or right, you can bank on Hamilton being on the top two lines. Linus Omark won’t give up his spot on the top line, unless Hamilton is being swapped with Sir Linus, so you can expect him to play with a Barons player to be named later. I say this simply because the Barons have struggled to find any type of rhythm offensively. Hamilton likely won’t help in that department, but then again, he’s a player that notched a bunch of points in the AHL, and knows how to hit a minor league stride. This thought alone continues to have me convinced that he plays a first or second line role in the minors, which is a vastly different placement for him than he saw in Oilers country.

This could be interesting.

Do Your Part To Make This World A Little Better…VOTE FOR A TEEMU HARTIKAINEN BOBBLEHEAD!

The old saying “it’s better late than never” applies to some things, but most of the time it really is just a trite statement placed on those people or events that really are late to the party. Take the Oklahoma City Barons for instance. Great team for many seasons now. They’ve also procured some great talent. One of those being Teemu Hartikainen, who was really a “heart” guy from a fan perspective. Attractive, a great player, magically talented, and endearing as can be. He’s gone. Long story very short, he felt he wasn’t in the immediate plans, and has sought refuge in Russia (weird phrase, yes). However, the Barons have chosen to possibly resurrect his likeness in the form of a bobblehead.

Our cries season after season for a Teemu bobblehead went unheard, and now we have a chance to attain his greatness for a momentary spasm. YOU, the fine readers of Tend The Farm, have a chance to make a positive difference in this world by voting for the Teemu Hartikainen bobblehead.

The three-part release of bobbleheads this season will feature Todd Nelson, Justin Schultz (odd), and one more. The choice is up to the fans. It will either be Mark Arcobello, Yann Danis, Bryan Helmer, and Teemu Hartikainen. Vote with your heart, which will always lead you to Teemu, and you can own a piece of history.

Regardless of the clanky nature of enshrining players that have now left, and are playing elsewhere, this is an opportunity for you and me and all of use to to do our part to make this world a little better…

VOTE HERE, BUT ONLY IF IT’S THE CORRECT VOTE. YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?

#VOTETEEMU!!!!!!

BBG&CS: Calming Florida Beaches, Seth Jones, Chelios, Emery’s Craziness, & those sad Oilers

Cocoa Beach, FL (Photo: Patricia Teter. All Rights Reserved.)

We are back to BBG&CS this week following my return from another road trip which, yes, included some hockey in Georgia and Florida, along with a lot of seafood and a few beaches. Can you seriously blame me for this break? Take a good look at that photo of the beautiful sand at Cocoa Beach, Florida. It was the end of October and warm enough to enjoy the water and soft white sand along the coast of Florida. I keep asking myself why I returned so quickly!

| Outstanding article on Seth Jones — I MUST get to a Nashville game soon to watch this kid play in person!

“Jones eyed this tangle in his path and, with his long arms, he smartly pulled the puck a few inches toward him and easily maneuvered to his left, deftly changing the shooting angle. In the same smooth motion, as Moen dove in vain behind him, Jones whipped the puck past Price’s stick, bulging the net.

Twenty-one thousand sat stunned. A manchild in enemy clothes had effectively ended the game. The entire sequence had taken all of five seconds, a complicated play made to look easy, something that a number of NHLers 10 years his senior could not have done.

Welcome to the NHL, Seth Jones.” — via Stu Hackel at Sports on Earth.

| Chris Chelios’ Lucky Break into hockey:

“The never-ending career of Chris Chelios never should have begun. At age 17 he tried to walk on a startup college hockey program in San Diego, of all places. He had mononucleosis. He got cut. If he was a prospect at that point, it was for a beer-and-pizza league. He was working, going to school, bumming around the beach.” — via Nickholas J. Cotsonika at Yahoo! Sports. See also David Perron’s comment about Chelios below.

| Ray Emery’s crackpot beating of Braden Holtby:

“Holtby’s not the first player to get jumped and be an unwilling participant in a fight. But Holtby didn’t deliver a questionable hit. This wasn’t about retribution. This was about Ray Emery attacking a guy because he figured that’s what the locals wanted to see and because he’s terrible without the Blackhawks’ security blanket.” — via Greg Wyshynski at Yahoo! Sports Puck Daddy. See also my opinion on this issue, Emery’s Debacle — A Sad Night for Hockey at ArtfulPuck; and see Gary Lawless’ tweet below about possible NHL rule changes related to this event.

| And for a much needed laugh …. Where’s Waldo? er, the Capitals?

| And what about those Oilers, folks?

There is a great deal of frustration at all levels of the organization all the way down to the fans, even OKC fans since the farm team is continually hit with reassignments. It’s part of the business, but it is hard to cheer when these farm boys are called up anymore. NHL games with the Oilers are not a great deal of fun at the moment. So, good luck to any callups (looking at you Fedun!) and the Oilers themselves, and may the future brighten considerably in the coming days, weeks and months. Something’s got to give, right? No, I’m not going to link to anything, I’ll just mourn them for a while, however, I will leave you with this calming moment … just listen to the soft crash of surf along the beach and feel the cool sea breeze against your face. Nice, isn’t it! — PT.

Sea Oats in sand dunes. Ponte Vedra, FL. (Photo: Patricia Teter. All Rights Reserved.)

 

– You know that place in The Daily Oklahoman? The one between Big Game & Club Soccer? That’s where you may find some Barons coverage. For the rest of the news, check out BBG&CS every weekend.  –

Taylor Fedun Recalled By The Oilers While Potter And Grebeshkov Remain In OKC

Photo by Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved.

Taylor Fedun, the world is your oyster, at least for one game. The prospect with some sizable puck moving skills, who’s yet to play a game in the NHL, has been recalled to the Edmonton Oilers for their game tomorrow night. Perhaps for more ice time, if needed.

Fedun is a good choice, and a strong prospect capable of fitting nicely into Dallas Eakins swarm defense. First, he’s a smart kid, and very agile. Taylor Chorney with more physicality, Fedun can do many things very well. This is likely why the Oilers have called him up for his first tour of duty.

Belov gimpy almost guaranteed that Corey Potter or Denis Grebeshkov would return to Oklahoma City, but instead Fedun leagpfrogs both momentarily. He’ll join Phillip Larsen, another recent Barons skater.

I agree with a lot of folks, Potter has been the best Barons defender of late. Fedun, good, not as great. Yet this is a move to further cling to Taylor as a prospect with promise. I like that, and I like his style of play. However, playing defense within a struggling organization (including on defense) is not the greatest way to make your NHL debut. Yet the choice isn’t ours, and Fedun it is.

Official Release:

The Oilers have announced the recall of defenceman Taylor Fedun from Oklahoma City of the AHL.

This season, Fedun has played in 12 games for the Barons scoring a goal and three assists.

The 25-year-old could play in his first-career NHL game, as he joins the team in Florida before their tilt against the Panthers tomorrow night.

Fedun spent the entire 2012-13 season in the American Hockey League, amassing 27 points (8-19-27) in 70 games. He also added three goals and three assists in 17 playoff games with Oklahoma City.

Fedun was an undrafted free agent signing of the Oilers.

Tend The Farm Soccer: An Interview with OKC NASL’s Chris Taylor

Over the last few months, there’s been a lot of talk about the new soccer teams coming to Oklahoma City over the next couple of years. For me personally, I grew up playing soccer in small town rec-leagues, but I was never in an area that the sport was extremely huge, or really all that talked about. That’s changing locally now, and I am excited about that.

From the North American Soccer League, they’re bringing a franchise that is being headed up by businessman Tim McLaughlin. The NASL was founded in 2009 and was named the second tier United States soccer league soon after. Beginning with eight teams from the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico, the league is looking to reach a mass expansion with three teams joining in 2014, and another two in 2015 of which one is Oklahoma City.

One of the first moves that McLaughlin and the NASL team made, was to bring in former MLS player and Oklahoma City native, Chris Taylor. “With the timing of my release in Portland, I thought that this was a great opportunity for me and this was a good match. I had high hopes for Oklahoma City’s plans for professional soccer and I wanted to create something special in OKC with something that the city has never seen, the highest level of professional soccer in Oklahoma City,” Chris explained. “It’s a sport that I’ve spent 20 years playing, and where better to get my start in sports business than my home state?”

A graduate from University of Tulsa with a major in Business Management, specializing in Entrepreneurship, he was an NSCAA Scholar All-American with the Golden Hurricanes’ in 2009, and part of their three-year run of winning Conference-USA conference championships in 2007, 08, and 09. Following his time in college, he then entered into the MLS Superdraft, where he was drafted in the second round with the 22nd pick by the Portland Timbers in their first season of play. After spending two seasons and part of a third with the Timbers organization, Taylor was released this past year, leading him back to Oklahoma City.

But with still another year before the NASL team begins playing, Taylor said that the organization hopes to establish a prominent brand, even before the team takes the pitch for the first time at Taft Stadium. “We want to create buzz among the non-soccer crowd, as well as reaching out to the ‘already soccer fans’ in OKC too.”

In a city that is already dominated by the Oklahoma City Thunder, as well as OU, OSU, TU, and other colleges, Taylor sees the allure of the soccer atmosphere as something that will set their team apart from the aforementioned groups. “The community as a whole has always been a college environment, and now there’s Thunder-nation. Once we have our first game, once things become tangible, we think people will realize that soccer is a different environment than OU, OSU, and the Thunder. The amount of passion in soccer in international play, or in Portland as I experienced, is truly incredible. Fans, when they come to games, will be able to experience something they never have before and be a part of it. Supporters groups are relevant and extremely passionate about the team and especially the game. We are going to bring an experience that will make people say ‘Wow, this is a part of my city,’ and maybe even join the supporters group.”

That’s just off the pitch. In the US Soccer pyramid, the NASL sits as the second-tier league below the MLS. “Fans can for sure expect players of international quality. People will see that this is a legit league, and will be something that kids coming up will definitely latch on to,” Taylor continued. “Someone like me would have needed to leave Oklahoma City to make a living playing professional soccer, but now there’s that team in Oklahoma City that can provide that living.”

Despite being a league of currently eight teams playing – and will be 13 by the time Oklahoma City begins playing – Taylor says there are already some tailor-made rivalries awaiting the team. “San Antonio has been itching to have someone closer that their fans can make trips to. I’ve heard of an I-35 rivalry with Minnesota even. You always look at the nearest teams. To be able to create rivalries is a great thing for the game as it helps grow with the fans and the crowds. It provides fans an influential outcome of the game.”

As the team begins to build its strategy over the next year, they have an example already of what route to follow in the Indy Eleven. Indy begins play next year and Taylor says they have already paved a trail for the Oklahoma City team to follow. “They’ve been able to secure 6,500 season tickets and that is absolutely incredible for a city that has two professional sports teams, and one of those being arguably the most popular sport in football. They’ve been able to reach out and grab the fans. With the passion they have, they’ve done a fantastic job to this point. That’s a group we’d like to emulate. It’s a different community, but that doesn’t mean we can’t tailor it to Oklahoma City.”

Taylor also mentioned the closer market in San Antonio: “San Antonio has their own stadium that is absolutely fabulous. It’s a great soccer environment and the attendance will grow as the NASL continues to grow. They’ve been able to find the niche and grow it into something that you almost can’t call a niche anymore.” San Antonio’s attendance dipped below six-thousand people only once during the fall season, averaging 6763 over the course of seven home games.

At only the age of 24, Taylor doesn’t see this as a permanent move to the front office, however, and still sees himself playing in the future. “I’m 24, young, and in my prime. People ask me why I’m doing this now. In the professional landscape, life is dependent on having a good match, where every day is you’re competing for your job. It can be that you have a great game one week, and then three weeks later be on the bench.

“To be able to have some normalcy, lay some roots, it’s a nice thing to be a part of. However, there’s nothing better than walking out with your teammates and walking out of that tunnel to the crowd’s roar. I’m still training, but I look at this as a way to get business experience in a field that I know and love. I would have been a little disappointed to not be a part of this in Oklahoma City.” And Taylor means that literally. “I want to be a part of history in Oklahoma City, and I’m hoping to suit up and be a part of the team on opening night.”

The Barons Play Much Better, Defeat Wolves In Game Two Of Weekend Series

Photo by Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved.

After a pretty brutal five goal second period, Olivier Roy would return to the Oklahoma City Barons starting lineup to hopefully resurrect his presence in net. On the other end of the ice was Jake Allen, who was hoping to be equally as good. The first period began, and immediately my eyes went to Shane Harper and Ty Rattie, two Wolves who had a huge games the night before. However it was Linus Omark and Andrew Miller that would immediately have a couple of good chances with Corey Potter and Denis Grebeshkov playing the important starting defensive pairs. Absent was Oscar Klefbom, who was clearly the worst Barons defender on the ice in game one between these two, and in was Brad Hunt.

The Barons would earn their first power play opportunity at 3:34, following an incredible chance by Ty Rattie, with an errant Wolves hook. Omark had a pretty fantastic moment on the power play, but quickly took an interference penalty to put the game at 4 on 4 for a bit. The penalties would end, Omark would have a few more opportunities to score, but Jake Allen was really really good early.

With the game rubber banding back and forth, the Barons would get a two minute power play to finish the first period when Brent Regner was whistled for a cross-check, and happy-to-shoot (and in this case happy-to-tip-in) Matt Ford would notch his fourth goal of the season with assists from Martin Marincin and Denis Grebeshkov. The Barons would take only nine shots in the first twenty minutes, but that was okay because they would finish the period with a 1-0 lead.

As the second period began, credit needed to be given to Todd Nelson for figuring out a way to slightly slow the tempo while holding on to the lead. The team didn’t stop playing, but rather buckled down defensively. It was Ty Rattie, again, that would break through and tie the game for the Wolves on the power play with an assist to former Baron/Oilers Taylor Chorney. With the game tied, and the Wolves suddenly charging, the Barons were unable to score on the power play despite given many many opportunities, the second period end with 1-1 tie game.

Kale Kessy and Derek Nesbitt would score a goal a piece in the first 3:18 of the third period to bump the Barons ahead by two goals, and towards a much needed victory. A Grebeshkov trip and a Brandon Davidson abuse of an official penalty (10 minutes; arguing a call with flavor) gave the Wolves a solid attempt on the power play. Centerman, Pat Cannone would score his first of the season, and inch the Wolves back towards equaling the Barons. Linus Omark would take the puck strong to the net, and earn his second penalty shot of the season, and another goal-scored for the Swede. The Barons would spend the next thirteen minutes of the hockey game thwarting the Wolves, playing solid defense, and only allowing one power play opportunity.

The 4-2 final was a much better outing for Oklahoma City compared to Friday evening. Olivier Roy would stop 31 of 33, and the Barons would find some offensive life on the power play (1), even strength (2), and a penalty shot (1).

This was a big win for the Barons, a good return to form for Linus Omark and goaltender Olivier Roy. The Wolves also looked a tad better than advertised, and with Ty Rattie in tow, they’ll be fine.

Barons Lose To Wolves Amid Inglorious Second Period

Photo by Rob Ferguson.

The Chicago Wolves touched down in Oklahoma City for the first time this season. With the home team still missing important pieces (injured or Edmonton mainstay), the outlook was sunny as the Wolves have struggled mightily to begin the season. But it was Oklahoma City that would struggle the most on the first November night of 2013, as they’d get clobbered in a five goal second period en route to an eventual 6-0 loss.

Olivier Roy, despite his tendencies to give up far too much space behind him on occasion, was solid in the opening period for the Barons. Couple that with two really fine penalty kills, and you have a pretty decent first period for OKC against the Wolves. The problem remains offense.

Jake Allen, the Wolves starting goalie, was equally as fine, and a large target to overcome. A semi-okay power play for Oklahoma City earned a few really fine chances, but held the first period to a scoreless end.

The second period was unkind to Olivier Roy, and for as good as he was in the first period, he was equally as questionable in the second. Although the defenders in front of him gave little assistance, four straight goals on only seven shots during the period is pretty terrible. Rough enough to place a bit of blame on the tender alone. But it was a complete unravelling by the defensive core that systematically gave the Chicago Wolves a major leg up. Shane Harper and Alex Bolduc each scored a pair with Ty Rattie adding one more to give the Wolves a five goal second period. The Barons looked sunk.

Tyler Bunz would lead the Barons onto the ice to start the third, and all fingers were simultaneously crossed by every fan in the Cox Center. However, with the five goal second period in the not-so-distant past, there was little mojo remaining for OKC. Bunz himself would give up a goal in the final twenty, again care of Ty Rattie, to nail the coffin shut on an awful defensive performance and a gargantuan offensive fail by the Barons. The good news / bad news? Same two, tomorrow night.

To the thoughts

– The Barons can kill penalties, and that’s one of the brightest spots on an otherwise gnarly start for OKC. They gave one up on the power play tonight, but looked absolutely spot on for most of the night completing the evening 1/7. They now sit second in the entire league with an 88.1% PK rate.

– In stark contrast, the power play is falling to the wayside. One or two awful nights on the PP, and you will dip you in the league standings. This will continue to be a problem until it isn’t. 11/52 on the season isn’t all that awful, but tonight they went 0/6 with nary a fight.

– Phillip Larsen, absent from the OKC roster due to a late afternoon recall, could have helped a bit with his offense/defense minor league smarts, but Corey Potter and Denis Grebeshkov were around. There’s no excuse for the defense tonight. Oscar Klefbom was on the ice for four even strength goals. Yikes. Just a poor defensive night all around.

– No forward for OKC took more than three shots. Linus Omark took none. That’s a problem. 9-6-6 were your shots per period for the team. Low shot totals aside, the offense was deeply wounded tonight. Credit coach Anderson for prepping his Chicago team. They moved the puck quickly out of their defensive zone, and the OKC forwards were unable to match their upbeat play.

– Olivier Roy looked really good in the first twenty minutes, and then looked like Frankenstein’s monster in the second. He can make a great first save, but has a lean to his game that allows way too much empty space between himself and the net. The rebounded shot has always been his downside. Season after season this has remained a huge problem. He has to figure out a way to recover quickly or discover ways to not give up rebounds…or else.

Oklahoma City Lines, Pairs, Goaltender

Omark-Stretch-Ford
Nesbitt-Broda-Miller
Fyten-Lamoureux-Maylan
Kessy-Ewanyk-Lizon

Davidson-Fedun
Klefbom-Marincin
Grebeshkov-Potter

Roy/Bunz

Workin’ For The Weekend: Chicago Wolves at Oklahoma City Barons “Positivity”

Rap music, still considered a trend at the time, blossomed in the mid to late 80’s thanks to a creative swing by influential outfits like De La Soul and Jungle Brothers. What those acts did was simply prove to the world that rap was more than lyrical street poetry with beats-a-plenty. Blending strong jazz influences to hip hop beats pushed the envelope on the already ridiculous expectations incorrectly placed upon rap groups.

Gang Starr, using heavy samples, bright horns, and positive lyrics, was one of these uber creative duos that is heavily responsible for the progression of the genre.

Guru and DJ Premier oozed confidence and positivity while completely embracing the new sound of East Coast stylings. No More Mr. Nice Guy, their debut album released in 1989, was and still is a diamond in the rough. It’s heart felt, jovial, smart, and wickedly inspirational. Despite their sorrowful ending with the death of Guru in 2010, the legacy of progression over commercial success would only solidify their spot in the annals of hip hop fame.

“Positivity”, was probably the duos most successful single of their early career. The samples were heavy, the beats were crafty, and the DJ scratch breakout is superb. Lyrically it’s what you’d expect – eternally optimistic, hopeful, and smart – but also aware of the pitfalls of humanity.

“Now is the chance to advance and get an outlook
Create the circumstance, because I doubt books”

“Since I’m an optimist, I’ll turn and walk with this
tape playing loudly, inside my headphones”

“Havin nothin to lose, so much to gain”

“I’ll achieve, I’ll receive, and I’ll be livin free
Me and my DJ Premier with positivity… positivity! Yeah”

As “junior high” as the lyrics seem in 2013, the freshness of the sound, candor, and flow were spot on in 1989. What hasn’t changed in that span of time is the message, which is still eternally understood. Positive thinking leads to positive lifestyles. Be it. Do it. Live it. Smart fellas.

The 4-5-0-1 Barons could learn this lesson too. (By extension, so could the Chicago Wolves)

The first days of November are now upon us, and with it comes a brand new opponent for the 2013-14 season. The Chicago Wolves have had a pretty tipsy start to the season, and the last three games have been proof of that. Riding a three game losing streak, and having not won a game since October 19th, the Wolves travel to Oklahoma City for a two-step affair on Friday and Saturday night. Both teams are hopeful that November brings some really good play, but pessimism wins at least until we are proven wrong.

The Wolves look to Corey Locke, signed this July, to steer the offensive ship, and in eight games played, he has done just that. Three goals and four assists has Locke in his typical a-point-per-game-or-better self that fans have watched in multiple cities (Binghamton, Houston, Hamilton), and fully anticipate him continuing for the duration of the season. In the top 100 in all time AHL scoring, Locke is, well, a lock when it comes to earning points for his team. Although he is yet to play a single minute of NHL hockey, the 2003 draft pick by the Candiens is one heckuva player, and dangerous to opponents.

Mark Mancari is another familiar AHL foe, and his journeyman tendencies have slowed as he has found a good bit of action with the Chicago Wolves the last two seasons. He is a really good player, and a highly chancy winger that gives even the most intelligent defender huge fits. Four goals and a single assist already this season, Mancari is shaping up to be a huge asset to the Wolves moving forward.

Matt Climie. Jake Allen. You know them? Me too. Both have had great moments in their AHL careers, but have struggled greatly in the early moments of the current season. Climie is yet to win a game in three starts and has a GAA of 3.73. Not good, not good at all. By comparison, Allen has fared much better, but has seen his GAA rise to 2.79. However, both are fine goaltenders, and will certainly get better as the season rolls on.

Defense, offense, goaltending aside, John Anderson is back with the team this season. The man who coached the team from 1997 to 2008, winning four championships in that time, is now back and ready to aid a new batch of prospects in Chicago. Since he left the club, he has spent time in the NHL (Atlanta, Phoenix), and this only adds to his already stellar resume. If anyone can wrangle a batch of struggling players into a right standing core of contenders, he can. Rarely is he out coached, and that gives the Wolves a leg up, even with a rough star.

With Anton Lander, Tyler Pitlick, and Ryan Martindale absent from the Barons lineup, there are a few new faces to squeeze in. Mario Lamareoux and Justin Maylan, recently signed to AHL PTO’s just might fit the bill offensively. While Corey Potter and Denis Grebahkov join the defensive side of the puck after recently being unclaimed on the waiver wire from Edmonton. All will be instrumental in future success.

The Barons will need to play some really good defense, find a way to score goals consistently, and suddenly play well enough to protect a tandem of prospect goaltenders in Tyler Bunz and Olivier Roy. With Richard Bachman still hanging around in the NHL, it’s up to the two Oilers draft picks to shoulder some of the burden in net. A split over the weekend would be good for both players, and also give fans a good perspective on “where” these two fit in the depth charts. On a squad that is still struggling with the Eakins overly aggressive swarm hybrid, the goaltenders will be left out in the cold far too much. These two guys will have to be good if they are to beat the Wolves twice in one weekend.

I’m hopeful. And maybe it’s because I listened to Gang Starr too much this week, but regardless, I’m hopeful that November is vastly different than October. Here’s to December being better than both.

Games are Friday and Saturday in Oklahoma City. Both will be heard on KXXY 96.1. Go Barons!