Photo by Steven Christy
The Oklahoma City Barons returned home Saturday night to the Cox Convention Center after a two-game run in Cedar Park, Texas against the Texas Stars. After playing either the Stars or the San Antonio Rampage in their first seven games, the Barons finally got to see some new faces in the opposite end of the ice. The Iowa Wild, back in the West Division (they were still the Aeros the last time), came into OKC riding a two-game winning streak after dropping their first five games of the season. Led by Jordan Schroeder and backstopped by Johan Gustafsson, the Wild looked to keep the wave going. Returning to OKC from a two-week stint in Edmonton, Richard Bachman returned to the Barons crease. Another addition from Edmonton, Luke Gazdic joined OKC on a conditioning stint.
Getting off to a quick start, the Barons Ryan Hamilton got OKC on the board early, scoring a goal just 88 seconds into the game. Receiving a feed from David Musil, Hamilton put the puck past Gustafsson to make it a 1-0 Barons lead. After each team went unsuccessful on a power play try, a scary moment occured at the 16:58 mark of the first as Tyler Pitlick was hit with an elbow by Iowa’s Justin Falk. Falk was assessed an elbowing minor for the play, while Pitlick would have to sit out the rest of the game, following concussion protocols. The Barons struck just after the Falk minor concluded, Luke Gazdic received a feed from Travis Ewanyk and roofed it to make it a 2-0 game. Oscar Klefbom got the second assist, making a huge play to keep the puck in the zone to make the goal possible.
Two quick penalties by the Wild in the final minute of the first period gave the Barons a 5-on-3 power play to close out the period. With time ticking down, Ryan Hamilton potted a goal as the horn sounded, prompting a look by the officials. After reviewing the tape, the final judgement was a good goal by Hamilton, his second of the night, with only half of a second left. After the first twenty, the Barons took a 3-0 lead to the locker room.
The second period was quieter on the scoresheet, but both teams certainly had a lot to say to each other as the chirping back and forth continued throughout. Jujhar Khaira lit the lamp for his first professional goal at 3:58 after connecting on a pass from Kale Kessy to make it a 4-0 lead. Iowa continued to battle, and they eventually were able to get a puck past Bachman at the 14:05 mark with Ryan Walters walking in and scoring to make it 4-1. A penalty soon after by Ewanyk was killed off by the Barons, and the teams closed out the second with OKC leading by three.
Despite the chirping, the game stayed relatively calm as neither team seemed to want to light the fuse to the powderkeg. No penalties were called in the third and final frame but the Wild started to climb back with Marc Hagel leading the charge. Hagel nearly bookended the period with goals, first at the 2:05 mark and again at 19:30 with the extra attacker, but an empty net goal by Kale Kessy at 19:51 closed out the game in favor of the Barons, 5-3.
The two teams will meet again today at the Cox Center at 4:00 Central Standard Time (Daylight Savings is over, y’all). The Barons look to make it two in a row and keep pace with Texas atop the West Division standings.
-Ten different Barons hit the scoresheet in the game. Only Kessy and R.Hamilton had a multi-point game.
-No official word on the condition of Tyler Pitlick, but he did get dressed in street clothes after the end of the first period. Rumors were concussion-like, but again, nothing official.
-Coach Todd Nelson mentioned in the post game show that he expects Bogdan Yakimov to be out around 2-4 weeks with a shoulder injury he suffered in Texas.
Scratches: Pakarinen, C. Hamilton, Ludwig (healthy); Yakimov (shoulder), Brossoit (back), Davidson (groin).