Workin’ For The Weekend (Tuesday Edition): Kiddos Gonna Rampage “Kids In America”

From 1981 to 1993 Kim Wilde was a British pop singer sort of hovering in the background. A pretty good solo performer who knew her way around a stage, and was want to give a pretty solid MTV interview. Her messy blonde hair reminded folks of many female acts of the decade, and truthfully that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The synth pop drum machine style of music seemingly suited her well, and some loved her for it.

When her career fizzled a bit the glamour squad made every attempt to hammer out her rough edges that initially made her enigmatic. In the end it sort of paid off, and her late 80’s to early 90’s moments in adult contemporary were special at times, but mostly forgettable. Suddenly most realized that Wilde’s early career was her sweet spot, and that’s where we will softly land today.

At 21 Kim Wilde would release “Kids In America” as her debut single, and it would quickly propel a career that would give birth to many more none musical endeavors in years to follow.

Ease through the cobwebs of gardening shows, television hosting, and her “second” career just for a moment. Kim Wilde was a pretty infamous synth pop star, and “Kids In America” is exhibit A.

The intro has this thumping bass line that really charges through the entire song until a bubbling synth sound emerges at the chorus. Her voice is almost edgy, convicted really, and the song traps you in with a good hook and a few “Whoa-ew-oohs”.

Lyrically the song is ripped from the three chords and the crunching guitar riffed truth of punk rockers that new wave and synth pop folk often idolized. Growing up requires being tough, and for some it is the only way to get by. The transformation from childhood to adulthood doesn’t happen at a precise time for each person, and therefore “the young ones are going”, “the young ones are growing, we’re the kids in America.”

A school day game on Veterans Day in Oklahoma City is a pretty special event. Mid-morning pucks drops are brutal for AHL teams, but they are a historically important moment for kids, and one that they likely look forward to each year.

I’ve been a fan of these games for years, and partly because it hurls the team into an unfamiliar environment. The games take time to really get going, and you can almost instantly pick out the players who have good “night before” habits and those who don’t. This isn’t me standing, point a finger and shouting, “Ha! He had a rough night” as I nudge my buddy seated next to me. Rather it is about prioritizing time, managing the hours prior to a game, and coming to work prepared. For young AHL players school day games can be a learning experience.

After a Sunday snooze fest against the Rampage where the Barons were nearly shutout, the team from San Antonio visits the Cox Center today on a crisp, almost-winter-like Tuesday morning. The Rampage are currently sitting at .500, and despite coming off a two-goal victory over the Barons, they have gone 4-6 in their last ten games. By comparison the Oklahoma City Barons have rattled off a 5-3-2 run in their first ten. This will be a big challenge on a Tuesday morning for OKC, not just because they are facing the Rampage, but because they have and will play a bunch of hockey this week.

Rocco Grimaldi is back with the Rampage after a stint with the parent club in Florida. His NHL debut began on November 1st, and wasn’t dazzling enough to keep him around. But don’t be fooled by his sudden re-assignment, he is of a great quality in terms of AHL play, and look for him to be stellar.

The Rampage are still without Vincent Trochek. They’ve still scored nearly 40 goals already. They still have Bobby Butler, Mark Mancari, and Shane O’Brien. Dan Ellis and Michael Houser are serviceable goaltenders. So they will compete nightly (or daily).

Oklahoma City had a really good game on Saturday, and still nearly loss. They had a really bad game on Sunday, and were never really in it. As they face the Rampage again the key will be special teams as it tends to be in situations like these.

The PP is amazingly good, and the PK is getting better. The big issue will come in defending the pressure that San Antonio is known for. Hunt-Davidson, and the rest of the lot, will really have to make sure they keep the play in front of them, on the edges of the ice, and quickly back the other direction when need be.

The forward shakeup will likely continue, and we just might get Tyler Pitlick back in a game this week. Yet if not this week, most likely by the weekend.

Bogdan Yakimov needs a big statement game, and this could be his return to glory.

Richard Bachman is the likely candidate to start with Bachman and Brossoit splitting time over the weekend.

Also keep your eyes peeled for Steve Pinizzotto whom might be a bit nicked up.

Luke Gazdic is nearing the end of his fourteen day conditioning stint (they can call him early, not late). This might be the last time we see him. If for some reason he’s a healthy scratch assume that he’s packing for God’s country…Edmonton.

The game can be heard via 1340 The Game, iHeartRadio, Live 365 and AHL Live. Join us for the 10:35 puck drop in OKC.

Yakimov & Davidson Return, Barons Go .500

Photo by Steven Christy

With a bit of momentum, some good luck, and some really good play with an extra skater, the Oklahoma City Barons boldly marched into the second weekend of November with a pair of games. The first against the unfamiliar Toronto Marlies, whom only play the Barons twice this season, and the second against the all-too-familiar San Antonio Rampage. The ironic twist is that the gameplan against the unfamiliar foe was perfect, one of the most complete games of the season, while the familiar adversary got the hangover treatment. Thus the weekend would end with a two game split.

On Saturday night the Toronto Marlies would continue their jaunt through the West Division geography after playing games against the Rampage and Stars. Like many teams in the month of November, the Marlies are likely better than they appear on paper. Up and down, back and forth type of games have brought Toronto equal amounts of good and bad luck. As they would face the Barons it was clear that they are a team that has the skill, has the depth, and ultimately has the potential to be better than they have shown early on in the AHL season.

Despite a 2-1 deficit for Oklahoma City after the first period, it was the high and mighty power play that would again rear its nastiness upon a formidable opponent. Ryan Hamilton scored his fifth of the season sandwiched around two Marlies goals in the first twenty minutes of play. The power play would eventually snag another goal mid-way through the second period care of Brad Hunt (he’d score two goals on the night), and the Barons would go 50% on the evening with an extra skater. This is good news. Yet the great news is that the Barons were able to seal up gaps, and draw the play away from their own zone on the penalty kill – something that hasn’t happened this season on the farm. The team would perfectly, and I mean perfectly, kill all four Marlies chances, and special teams would live luxuriously.

The team would take 52 shots at temporary Marlie Cal Heeter on Saturday night. A 21 shot second period, would make the difference on the night as the Barons kept the play mostly in the Marlies zone for the second twenty. Leading 3-2 heading into the third period, it seemed that the Barons had finally taken things into their own hands.

Although Oklahoma City would allow the Marlies two power play chances in the third, it was the even strength scoring that would tie the game. Tyler Biggs, only recently exiled to Orlando, would score his first AHL goal of the season nearing the halfway point of the third period for Toronto. The teams would shuck and jive for positioning, but both Heeter and Bachman would come up big in the closing moments. Oklahoma City would take fourteen shots in total (this with at least four minutes on the PK), and nearly sealed the deal multiple times. But the horn would take us to overtime tied 3-3.

The new overtime rules insist that some if it be played 3 on 3, and what a glorious sight it was to behold. Curtis Hamilton would knock in a rebounded shot on Cal Heeter to tip over the Marlies apple cart, and earn his team two points in a hotly contested battle. The one thing I’ll say about 3 on 3 hockey (Nelson went two forwards, one defender) is that it makes goaltenders look goofy, forwards look like god-men, and is more fun than any one fan should have watching it unfold.

The win was well earned despite Cal Heeter being an absolute solider. As Brad Hunt scored a pair, and the Barons won a sizzler, the two points would put Oklahoma City in a good position in the conference standings at least for a day.

Oklahoma City Barons Lineup Against Toronto:

R.Hamilton – Williams – Miller
C.Hamilton – Lander – Kessy
Moroz – Acton – Ford
Gazdic – Khaira – Ewanyk

Davidson-Hunt
Simpson-Oesterle
Musil-Lidwig

Bachman
Brossoit

Scratches: Pitlick (concussion), Pinizzotto (healthy), Yakimov (shoulder), Gernat (woozy)

Some overnight travel to San Antonio led to a bit of a lazy game for Oklahoma City, and an atypical response against a team that pours on the pressure.

Seemingly realizing the Barons were gassed, the Rampage came out swinging for the fences. Laurent Brossoit would return to action, and subtly let in a goal in the first minute of play after the Barons defenders couldn’t contain the puck. San Antonio would steamroll the Barons from this point forward. With fifteen seconds remaining in the game, the Barons would score on the power play to give us the “of course they did” shoulder shrug we had been waiting for.

Sixty minutes of play, and the return of Bogdan Yakimov weren’t enough to get the team over the hump in this one. 3-1 would be your final tally against a Dan Ellis goaltending performance that barely rubbed out twenty shots on the night.

Oklahoma City Barons Lineup Against San Antonio:

R. Hamilton – Williams – Miller
C. Hamilton – Lander – Kessy
Moroz – Yakimov – Acton
Gazdic – Khaira – Ewanyk

Davidson – Hunt
Simpson – Oesterle
Musil – Gernat

Scratches: Tyler Pitlick (concussion), Matt Ford (healthy), Steve Pinizzotto (maybe not healthy), C.J. Ludwig (healthy)

Notes:

– Indeed the things that the Oilers initially loved about Brad Hunt are the things that the Barons love too. A thick shot from the point, useful as a fourth forward, and a steadying point fella on the PP – yes, Hunt is good at the AHL level. He is, however, still lacking defensively, and although he had no glaring missteps in the two games he played paired with Brandon Davidson, Sunday’s game was a bit dicey at best. Watch this in the coming days.

– Indeed Brandon Davidson returned to the Barons after recovering from a sports hernia procedure. In typical Nelson form, he gave both Hunt and Davidson high minutes. This was good news for Davidson who has yet to suit up this season. In all, they looked fine, and the stat line will tell you they were better than they actually were. Remember, though, defense is a fickle beast in the AHL. Team’s with good goaltending and good forward play – like the Barons own – can sort of favorably tip the scales of the game. Yet defense ultimately wins championships, and we want to see Davidson (especially) begin to emerge as a legit D prospect.

– Bogdan Yakimov returned on Sunday night and looked about as rusty as the rest of the team despite not having played the night before. There was at least one good chance he had directly in front of the net, but his linemates (Acton and Moroz) didn’t really win him any good lookin’ contests. He will be fine, and his shoulder seemed to hold up well in action, so there is plenty to rejoice about.

– Will Acton looks a bit timid on the ice, and is probably in big trouble if he doesn’t ramp it up quickly.

– Steve Pinizzotto appeared to be a healthy scratch on Saturday, but was again out on Sunday. Perhaps there is a bit more to the story than we think. Here’s hoping he’s fine.

– Brossoit gets the start on Sunday, and instantly looks awkward/clumsy. He is a goaltender that still needs about 15:00 of game action to really find his sea legs. In division rivalries you don’t get 15:00, and you barely get 1:00 as he fond out quickly.

– Luke Gazdic went after a player that took a shot at Mitch Moroz on Saturday evening. Ironically enough, Moroz would have a fight standing up for himself on Sunday and get beat down. Fin.

Workin’ For The Weekend: OKC Hosts Toronto & Then San Antonio “Tempted”

Squeeze is one of those bands hailing from the late 70’s and early 80’s that were far too kitschy to gain major success in the U.S. market. Call us Americans simple, go ahead, but digesting soul music has always been difficult post-60’s. While Hall & Oates steamrolled the competition in the new-soul market during the 80’s, other really intelligent bands existed during the same era, were completely ignored stateside, and that would be a shame.

Indeed, when you think of Squeeze you don’t instantly think of the dynamo lyric and composition tandem of Difford and Tilbrook like you do Hall and Oates, but you certainly should. Their ability to place soul, Motown, and sophistication high on a pedestal without making it entirely cheesy is perhaps their most endearing quality.

The bands biggest single, “Tempted” just might have been a Smokey Robinson classic twenty years prior. Instead it would be the keystone to the Squeeze’s success, and a fine example of their conceptual quality.

In 1981, “Tempted” was a lazy top forty hit that barely made its way to airwaves despite a few bars actually sung by Elvis Costello. Perhaps it felt too familiar, or moreso stale, but the song would be a slow burner in the ears of many for decades to come. Its initial lack of success only makes its latter day success that much more baffling. It’s a great song. Performed with conviction, smart wordplay, and a sing-songy chorus, it is a track, like many in the early 80’s, that would become a cult hit far past its expiration date.

This song is simply about, well, temptation. Wanting more than you have, failing to be content, and regretting it in the end. It is the human condition – wanting what we don’t have – and it works so well in this poetic telling through music.

Like this track, a blue-eyed soul sensation, let’s not be tempted by the fruit of another because eventually truth is discovered.

Tempted by Squeeze on Grooveshark

We, as fans, could certainly ask for more from our Barons. Penalty killing, better consistent defense, fewer penalties, more scoring, but the truth is that this team is good. They are still trying to find their way, but they aren’t looking too shabby in the Western Conference lineup. With a big week ahead, the Barons need to focus on the good stuff, and not be tempted by the bad.

Toronto is a team that is unfamiliar to Oklahoma City, and distance is mostly to blame for that. However, games against the Marlies are almost always entertaining, and always leave you wanting more.

The Marlies are a bunch sitting at .500 as they make their way around the South. A two goal loss to the Stars two nights ago, and a one goal victory against the cranky Rampage were two games that perfectly pegged the Marlies’ season thus far. In the first game they played hard, probably deserved a win, but came up short. The other an awkward officiated game where both teams had more penalties than they cared to admit, yet the Marlies persevered. Sitting at the eighth in the West, but third in the North, the Marlies are a team better than they appear.

Rookie Connor Brown leads in team scoring with eight points in ten games, and usual mainstays Spencer Abbot and Greg McKegg not too far behind. Defensively two rookies also aid in the scoring and chances department, and those fellas to watch are Viktor Loov and Tom Nilsson.

Some okay sophomore goaltending from Christopher Gibson has been dicey at best, but the Marlies recently signed Buckeye (Go Bucks!) Cal Heeter to give Gibson a cushion.

Saturday night’s game begins at 7:00pm in OKC.

On Sunday evening at 4:00pm, the Barons welcome the Rampage back to the Cox Center. Unlike the Marlies, the Rampage are cousins that you know all too well, but somehow are always happy when they leave. Despite having beaten the Barons twice this season, with both games favoring the Rampage by a goal, the team from San Antonio has hit the skids just a bit after a fine start. Last night’s loss to Toronto handed San Antonio its fourth straight loss. Meanwhile the Barons are heading the other direction having earned at least a standing point in five straight games.

The loss of Vincent Trocheck and Rocco Grimaldi after only eight games might have thrown a wrench in the Rampage’s plan, there is no doubt, but they remain a team that puts a ton of pressure on defenses almost nightly. Bobby Butler leads the team with ten points, and he is an offensive gamer. Yet players like Mark Mancari and Brett Olson remain important “steadying” forces.

The Rampage are just behind the Marlies in the Western Conference, but third in the division behind Texas and Oklahoma City. A highly penalized, but quality scoring team, the Rampage can bite when you least expect them. A decent goaltender like Michael Houser or Dan Ellis gets good on a given night, and you might be in trouble.

With both teams being “less than the Barons” early on, expect fireworks. Toronto a distant, rarely seen opponent, and San Antonio a team hungry to win – the weekend might be wild and wooly.

Oklahoma City is without Oscar Klefbom, Keith Aulie and Iiro Pakarinen, both in Edmonton. The loss of Iiro being the most widely interesting, Todd Nelson will concoct a different lineup than he’s had for much of the season. One player doesn’t make a huge difference, but when that player is headstrong in ways that Pakarinen typically can be, he is indeed going to leave a hole.

Will Acton will draw in. Keith Aulie won’t. Acton starting against his former Marlies team is kinda sweet.

Keep your eyes peeled on face-offs and penalty killing – two things that Todd Nelson has worked on in practice.

Will Acton Clears, Pakarinen Officially Recalled, Marincin “Papered”

Photo by Steven Christy

This morning the Edmonton Oilers made official the recall of Barons forward Iiro Pakarinen. Included in the announcement was a paper transaction of Martin Marincin (we hope), which was a roster size move until Will Acton cleared. Acton indeed has cleared, and the Oilers prepare to face Boston tonight.

With the Oklahoma City Barons hosting the Toronto Marlies (who lost to Texas last night), Todd Nelson will again reconfigure lines, but also defenders.

Eight Games In, OKC Barons On-Ice Stats

In today’s world of advanced stats in hockey, there’s not a lot to be had in the American Hockey League. Yesterday, I compiled the on-ice stats for all of the Oklahoma City Barons and found some interesting things while doing it. Due to needing a bit of a sample size, I only included players that have played five or more games so far.

Iiro Pakarinen and Jason Williams have been the Barons strongest forwards, with Ryan Hamilton and Andrew Miller right behind. The Barons top line has been R.Hamilton-Williams-Miller for most of the season. Pakarinen and Anton Lander have shuffled through a few different wingers on the other side.

Oscar Klefbom leads the Barons defense corps, with a +6 differential. The next defenseman down is Martin Gernat with a +3, then Jordan Oesterle posting an Even. Klefbom has picked up some prime minutes for the Barons, averaging an estimated 26+ minutes per game. David Musil had a rocky start to the season, but picked it up last weekend against Iowa. He’s averaging over 20 minutes.

Keith Aulie has struggled the most, posting a -9 so far this season, far and away the lowest on the team while averaging an estimated TOI of 17+ minutes.

Despite not scoring a point so far this season, Mitch Moroz has still played very well for the Barons with a +3, averaging just under 16 minutes per game.

I’ll keep an eye on this throughout the season and update as we progress.

Will Acton On Waivers, Pakarinen To Oilers?

The Oilers are in need of another forward after placing Will Acton on waivers for re-assignment to the Oklahoma City Barons. You will recall that Acton played 47 games with the Barons a season ago after a eerily similar “let’s try him in the NHL” go round. Acton clogs an already full center roster in Oklahoma City, but with Bogdan Yakimov out a few more weeks, he is probably a welcome sight. And although folks in Edmonton find him dreadful, he (like Brad Hunt) will actually help fill the gaps on the penalty kill and face off rusty side of things. He is expected to clear, and in return a Barons forward is not long for the minors.

Iiro Pakarinen is arguably the Barons best forward. Wait, he is the Barons best forward. He is also the Swiss Army knife player that probably sparked the Edmonton Oilers curiosity when they signed him during the summer months.

This evening Eric Rodgers will be posting a good set of stats on the OKC Barons through a handful of games. You will notice that he is logging nearly fifteen minutes a night with a goal differential of eleven. His five goals and three assists in eight games is stellar, and he is coming off a game where he didn’t etch a single point, when virtually everyone else on the team did. In short, the team is better when Iiro is on the ice, and that’s huge news for the Finnish forward.

Rumors are that he will likely be called up soon, and by rumors I mean legit, considerable folks with inside knowledge. A Yakupov-Draisaitl-Pakarinen threesome might emerge.

Iiro the Hero is actually a pretty seasoned 23 year old, and has clearly adjusted well to the North American rink, style of play, and trappings that come with joining a squad in the land of opportunity. He is poised and well spoken, a very smart power forward. I think we find that he is far more aggressive and prepared than Teemu Hartikainen was at the same time in his rookie season (and that’s a lot to take in for this Hartikainen follower).

Catch Eric’s stats this evening, and stay tuned for more shenanigans.

 

Oscar Klefbom Recall Is A Good Bit Of Futurecasting

Photo by Steven Christy

In large corporations “futurecasting” is something that is done regularly. Suits sit in a room, usually a wooden table separating them with cobb salads strewn from one end to the other, and they look at where their company has been, where they are at now, and attempt to do the impossible – predict the future. For some that means crunching numbers, for others it’s about managing equities, and for another it’s managing people. But in all circumstances one thing is the keystone of any futurecasting session – there is risk in assuming things about the future.

Michael Eisner, the CEO of the Disney Corporation, once famously stated in a board meeting, “Well, when you’re trying to create things that are new, you have to be prepared to be on the edge of risk.” This came after he was reshuffling higher end employees, managing dollars more towards the better parts of Disney, and placing all of his chips on Walt Disney’s dream. Say what you will about Eisner, the man knew that the future had risk.

Take Oscar Klefbom for example, a defender with wild expectations placed upon him from the day he was drafted. Drafted nineteenth in 2011, he has logged just over fifty AHL games, and another 17 in the NHL in his rookie campaign. Having struggled with shoulder injuries, and inconsistency on the ice, perhaps there is some concern in what the Oilers are doing with him.

Over the weekend he was swapped for Brad Hunt in the NHL roster. This shouldn’t be viewed as Oscar’s “one shot”, but rather his continued “toe dip”. There are things worth mentioning as he prepares to log a few more NHL minutes.

Positioning

The greatest single development issue that most defenders have in the minors is simply positioning. Whether they are overseas prospects, Canadian junior graduates, or collegiate diploma earners, the size and speed of the AHL can seem baffling to most. The league takes its lumps for being “less than NHL”, but that doesn’t mean that the quality of competition isn’t high end. We noticed this last season, and in brief snippets this season, and that is that positioning when the puck is coming towards you can leave players snake bitten by even a subpar forward.

Let me explain. As Oscar Klefbom develops as a defender, watch his feet. Not necessarily while he’s skating, but when he’s standing still. You can tell where his next movement is going to be based on his footwork. A season ago he would get caught nonparallel with the wall moving backwards, and centermen would zoom around him. Chasing the puck instead of strategically assuming where it will go based on open ice has been a problem. Even assistant coach, Gerry Fleming mentioned this at yesterday’s game, “he has to manage the game inside the game, and let the play develop in front of him. This also means he needs to be more smart with the puck long before it hits his stick.”

Passing

You will notice an uptick in his scoring in the early parts of this season. But don’t let seven points in six games fool you. The scoring is coming because he has a much better supporting cast around him. In fact the Barons have scored over thirty goals in under ten games. This is a different offensive monster than the one Klefbom was tangled in a year ago. That makes a difference.

But let me earmark that statement, and return to something that has been good – passing. For all the goodness that surrounds him offensively, he has indeed learned to pass the puck with confidence. The movement from defensive zone to offensive zone, in particular, has been very good. There was a time when Martin Marincin made this transition, and it made him a better defensive prospect. By creating a legit first or second pass up ice, it allows the defender to get in position. Passes greater than 15′ feet have primarily been the struggle, and that seems to be going away. Great news for forwards receiving his passes, and for the defense expecting to not get caught in an odd man rush.

Positivism

Let’s be honest, sometimes the game between the ears gets the best of folks. Whether I’m playing Boom Beach on my iPad or Oscar Klefbom is being paid to play hockey, a little positivism goes a long way. In all seriousness, there is a confidence to the sophomore defender that we didn’t really see until the end of last season. This has paved the way for him to be a better player despite his defensive pair. Although there are times where he struggles to cover the tail end of a play that his partner might have bumbled. Not that he’s expected to be a perfect savior for everyone on the ice, but like a left fielder easing in on a shortstop playing a ground ball, you gotta be ready.

Klefbom is ready to beat the odds, especially in his mind. Prepare to see moments where he seems a chiseled veteran, and moments where you would rather close your eyes. However, always remember that this is a futurecasting situation, not a solution in 14-15 to the ailments of the Oilers defense. You insert him in to the lineup A) because he has earned it, and B) he truly is the best option at the moment. Don’t expect him to world beat, but do expect him to be the future. I think he’s getting closer every day.

Tyler Bunz debuts with Wichita Thunder vs Tulsa Oilers

Tyler Bunz at OKC Barons Training Camp, October 8, 2014. Photo courtesy of Steven Christy, All Rights Reserved.

The Wichita Thunder had a great start to their Tulsa road game, shutting down the Oilers’ offense and grabbing the lead with two quick goals in the first period by Jared Walker, with assists by E. Lizon and J. Jorgensen, and in under a minute Nikita Kashirsky, with assists by I. Lowe and A. Bourret, struck again to put them up 2-0. Tulsa quickly pulled their goalie Mike Zacharias for Kevin Carr, who would play an outstanding remainder of the game.

Edmonton Oilers prospect goaltender Tyler Bunz was in net for the first time for the Thunder after an eight month hiatus due to an injury he sustained on March 22nd with the Bakersfield Condors. Bunz was struck by a puck to the throat (under his throat protector) and fractured his larynx and damaged his vocal cords in that Condors’ overtime win.

Bunz was solid in the net considering his long absence and no practice for six months per doctor’s orders this summer. He faced 23 shots with 21 saves. Tulsa’s first goal at 7:02 in the 2nd started with a closeup shot from Steve Mele from the left which Bunz blocked and the rebound was quickly passed to Tom Mele who slipped it in from the right side behind Bunz. This was Tom Mele’s first goal of the season and his brother Steve’s first assist of the season. After a strong push by the home team in the 3rd, Tulsa’s second goal at 6:44 in the third was a hard shot from the blueline by Jake Obermeyer that slipped past Bunz to tie the game 2-2.

The game went into overtime with a number of excellent chances for Wichita but Tulsa’s goalie Kevin Carr stopped them, along with an outstanding save on Tampa Bay Lightning’s prospect Danick Gauthier’s last second shot sending the game to a shootout. Wichita’s Stephen Schultz scored first at the bottom of round two, and at the top of round four Tulsa’s Jeff Jubinville scored to even the shots until the top of round seven when Tulsa’s Scott Macaulay scored through the legs of Bunz. Wichita’s Walker was unable to get past Carr, and Tulsa won 3-2 in the shootout.

The Three Stars of the Game:
1. Tulsa – Kevin Carr
2. Tulsa – Tom Mele
3. Wichita – Jared Walker

The StoneWolf Cup series is now 1-2 Tulsa and the two teams meet again on November 18th in Tulsa. Head to head record for the 2014-15 season: Wichita is 1-0-1-1 in the series and Tulsa 2-1-0-0.

See also Eric Rodgers’ article and Bunz’s comments from October 22.

  • Wichita Thunder Game Recap:  “Wichita pounced on the Oilers with two quick goals in the opening frame. Jared Walker recorded his fourth goal of the season with a wrist shot coming up the right wing that made it 1-0. Nikita Kashirsky scored his first of the season 41 seconds later that made it 2-0 at 8:33. The night was over for Mike Zacharias as he was taken out for the second time in the last eight days against Wichita and Kevin Carr came on in relief.”
  • Tulsa Oilers Game Recap: “Tulsa Oilers rookie goaltender Kevin Carr was expecting to be a bench spectator on Sunday evening.  Instead, the 24-year-old was called into action against the Wichita Thunder and made a game-saving stop at the end of overtime before shutting down six of seven Thunder shootout attempts to propel his squad to a 3-2 victory in front of 4,620 at the BOK Center.  Carr, the goalie of record in every Oilers game this season, ended the night with 22 saves as Tulsa improved to 3-1-1 and 2-0-1 on home ice.”
  • ECHL Game Summary
  • ECHL Game Sheet

StoneWolf Casino Cup Series: 1-2 Tulsa

  • Oct. 26: Wichita @ Tulsa — 5-6 in OT — Tulsa Win
  • Oct. 29: Tulsa @ Wichita — 2-0 — Wichita Win
  • Nov. 2: Wichita @ Tulsa — 2-3 in SO — Tulsa Win
  • Nov. 18: Wichita @ Tulsa
  • Nov. 23: Wichita @ Tulsa
  • Nov. 30: Tulsa @ Wichita
  • Dec. 10: Wichita @ Tulsa
  • Dec. 17: Wichita @ Tulsa
  • Feb. 21: Tulsa @ Wichita
  • Mar. 13: Wichita @ Tulsa
  • Mar. 21: Tulsa @ Wichita
  • Mar. 29: Tulsa @ Wichita
  • Apr. 8: Tulsa @ Wichita
  • Apr. 10: Tulsa @ Wichita

This article has been reposted from ArtfulPuck.

Oklahoma City Victorious Again! Defeat Iowa 4-2

Photo by Steven Christy

The Oklahoma City Barons defeated the Iowa Wild on Saturday evening, and that was a good thing. Although the loss was handed to the Wild, and the Barons were given the two points, it was nearly undone by a sideways third period where Iowa manhandled players left and right. This led to some scary moments, and nearly a loss for OKC, but they survived. This had me worried as the two teams squared off less than 24 hours later in the same rink.

Would Oklahoma City be able to play a full three periods? I hope so.

Three straight heated shifts to begin the game were just what the Barons needed to get the cylinders firing in their second game in less than 24 hours. Richard Bachman would again ease in to the lineup in net, and face the Iowa Wild whom in the previous game seemingly heated up in the third period. Andrew Miller would make good on a hooking penalty at 9:12 of the first period, and score quickly to put the Barons up 1-0. The white hot power play for Oklahoma City would continue to be solid. An undisciplined too many men penalty would allow Zack Phillips to score his second of the year for the Wild, and bring his team neck-and-neck with the Barons. But with some solid puck carrying via Martin Gernat and David Musil, the Barons would again take the lead with less than three minutes remaining in the first period. After twenty minutes the home team was up 2-1.

Steve Pinizzotto and Kale Kessy, who can be dicey at times, have recently been really creative with the puck. Testy and persnickety, yes, but altogether really good forward positioning and passing. They would both assist on a high-end shot and goal from Jordan Oesterle, his third of the season, to increase the lead by two goals. Back-to-back cross checking penalties from the Barons would allow every opportunity for the Wild to get back in to the game, but some really good PK work from several guys including C.J. Ludwig, would keep the lead at 3-1. Curtis Hamilton would retrieve the puck on the boards, and somehow get it to C.J. Ludwig for his first professional goal, and as the second period came to an end the cushion was now 4-1.

A three goal lead never feels completely safe if you’re a fan of the Barons, especially with twenty minutes remaining in the game. Indeed Iowa would figure out a way to apply heavy pressure on Richard Bachman, but it was the Barons D core that resembled a really good D core in the final minutes of the game. Michael Keranen would score an even strength goal for the Wild just pass the five minute mark to begin the period, and then the “buckle down” mentality of the Barons kicked in, but with a chancy side that kept Iowa at bay. The Barons were gifted several power play chances in the third, but were kept quiet simply because they wanted to protect their lead properly. Then a nasty Kurtis Gabriel (“Sledgehammer” pun here) hit on Martin Gernat left the defender woozy, but okay, and also gave Iowa a five minute plus a game misconduct to all but seal their fate. The hit was for charging, and it was pretty brutal. In the Barons zone, Gabriel would dash straight at Gernat, and immediately the zebra blew the whistle. No word on if Gernat was seriously injured, but he did require attention on the bench.

In the end the Barons would win their their second straight game, their fourth win in just five games, and points earned in five straight. A 4-2 victory over the Wild is just what the doctor ordered. That’s good news.

Oklahoma City Barons Lineup:

R. Hamilton-Williams-Miller
C. Hamilton-Lander-Pakarinen
Kessy-Khaira-Pinizzotto|
Gazdic-Ewanyk-Ford

Oesterle-Simpson
Musil-Ludwig
Aulie-Gernat

Bachman
Brossoit

Scratches: Moroz (healthy), Yakimov (2-4 weeks; right shoulder injury), Pitlick (day-to-day; concussion-like symptons)

Notes:

This was one of the most complete defensive games that the Barons have put together. David Musil, the second star of the evening only recorded a single assist, but did what he hadn’t done in a while – play with more success than error. Muscle, finesse, good hands, smart intangibles – this was the Musil we were hoping would blossom to begin the season. Although he wavers from game to game, his overall growth curve is trending up. Like.

C.J. Ludwig scored his first pro goal on Sunday evening, Anton Lander scooped the puck, handed it to him, and Ludwig would have a game to remember for a while. Todd Nelson is using forwards and defenders in all different types of scenarios. I wouldn’t place Ludwig on the PK in a million seasons, but Nelson has done it, and it works. Heads up coaching right there.

Iowa isn’t a wet blanket, but they aren’t a juggernaut either. This is the team that struggles mightily this season, and quite frankly, remind me of the Barons we saw through January a year ago. Good pressure, low skill.

The Barons powerplay went 1/4 on the evening which is less than the current success rate in terms of percentages, but it sure is nice knowing that the team can get it done when given the chance. Hovering at around 35%, it is tops in the league, and by a country mile. This holds up, things will be just fine.

The penalty kill is bit lumpy, but was 25% on Sunday night. With Bachman’s return, the defensive betterment, and forwards learning to uphold their responsibilities – this will get better. For most prospects, scoring goals comes a bit more naturally, killing penalties does not. Hence Nelson has motivated people like Curtis Hamilton and C.J. Ludwig, two guys needing to prove worth, to be trumpeting heralds of penalty killing.

2632 in attendance isn’t an entirely awful 4:00pm Sunday start for Oklahoma City Barons fans. Yet league-wide the Barons remain in the bottom three with winter and Thunder basketball gaining momentum (Westbrook!! Durant!! No!!). Averaging over 3,000 month-to-month is key.

The Barons host the Toronto Marlies next Saturday followed by a trip to San Antonio on Sunday. As of next Saturday, the team will play five games in the span of a week. That’s a tough sell, and a true test for the increasingly fun to watch Barons.

One Hundred Percent Chance of Points, Barons Beat Iowa 5-3

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.

Notes:
-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.
-Attendance: 2913

R. Hamilton-Williams-Miller
Moroz-Lander-Pitlick
Kessy-Khaira-Pinizzotto
Gazdic-Ewanyk-Ford

Simpson-Oesterle
Klefbom-Musil
Aulie-Gernat

Richard Bachman
Frans Tuohimaa

Scratches: Pakarinen, C. Hamilton, Ludwig (healthy); Yakimov (shoulder), Brossoit (back), Davidson (groin).