Workin’ For The Weekend: Wild Weekend In OKC “Thriller”

‘Thriller’, the 1982 follow up to Michael Jackson’s ‘Off The Wall’, needs no introduction. Nine singles, four authored by Jackson himself, is all it took to amplify Jackson and his electro-funk-soul-rhythm-pop sound to the top of the charts in the early parts of 1980. Where ‘Off The Wall’ fell short in its contrived, disco ways, ‘Thriller’ would more than make up for.

The title cut from the album of the same name has reached pop legend status. Quincy Jones’ production, the Landis helmed video, and a bit of luck thanks to the emergence of MTV, this is a cut for the ages.

The synth heavy, sound effect layered song is instantly recognizable, and insanely Jackson-ish. It was the rare complete song that fulfilled creepy and poppy simultaneously and that’s a good thing.

The day after Halloween, my costume reeking of Snickers and sweat, “Thriller” seems more appropriate for a game preview than perhaps ever before. After all, these Oklahoma City Barons can thrill, they can also spill, but mostly thrill.

This weekend the Barons host the Iowa Wild – “’cause this is thriller, thriller night.”

Five games in and the Iowa Wild hadn’t won a game. Game one they lost to San Antonio by a single goal. The next game by two goals to the Texas Stars. Then came a two-set with the Milwaukee Admirals where the Wild were outscored eight goals to three. A week later they’d have a soul-crushing moment against the Charlotte Checkers. However, they’ve resurrected themselves in the last week or so. The losing streak ended, and a two game winning streak began. The last two games have been a “real good thing” for the Iowa Wild as they’ve dished out back-to-back multiple goal victories. So the Wild travel to Oklahoma City on Saturday and Sunday to continue their winning ways while the Barons look to nudge themselves over .500.

Jordan Schroeder signed a two-year contract with the Minnesota Wild, and he be earning his paycheck, son. Ten points in seven games is good enough for sixth in the league for him. And he is only beginning to heat up as four of those points have occurred in the last two games. The Wild needed that too, as they struggled early on to score goals in bunches.

With a team filled with nine active rookies, scoring is going to be a problem, but so is defending, goaltending, consistency, and just about everything else. They are hoping to end a bit of the inconsistent streak as they receive three decent defenders from NHL Minnesota in Stu Bickel, Jon Blum, and Justin Faulk – all reassigned in the last three days.

John Curry and Johan Gustafsson are manning the pipes for the Wild these days, and both have a below .900 save percentage. As the team cooks up offensively, and the defense gels, expect one or both to get hot once mid-November early December rolls around.

For Oklahoma City, they get Richard Bachman back. This is huge. Although it comes with a bit of trepidation as Frans Tuohimaa has played excellent minutes with Laurent Brossoit’s back tweaked just a bit.

Luke Gazdic, who had shoulder surgery in April, will suit up for Oklahoma City on a conditioning stint. That likely begins this weekend, and gives Gazdic some good minutes back in the AHL where he has lent his services for 200+ games as a member of the Texas Stars.

Also returning to the Barons is Brandon Davidson after a hernia situation that has kept him from play for the entire month of October.

All three are very interesting additions to the team, and with their induction comes change to the roster.

The official report is that Iiro Pakarinen and Curtis Hamilton will be the healthy scratches tonight, and Richard Bachman will start in net. Sitting Iiro and Curtis is odd, if winning is something you enjoy, but it is more about giving equal minutes to everyone. Let’s hope this experiment doesn’t backfire, as it almost has on a number of occasions.

Tonight’s game is at 7:00pm with the one on Saturday a matinee of sorts at 4:00pm. Won’t you join us?

The ECHL’s Wild West Central Division – October

For hockey fans living in the South Central US, ECHL hockey landed in our laps early this October when the Central Hockey League (CHL) teams — Allen Americans, Brampton Beast, Missouri Mavericks, Quad City Mallards, Rapid City Rush, Tulsa Oilers and Wichita Thunder  — were absorbed into the ECHL. For local Tend the Farm folks we are situated in the middle of some great ECHL hockey:  the Allen Americans are just 3 hours south of OKC; an hour and a half to the northeast is OKC’s familiar rival for many years the Tulsa Oilers; and just 2 1/2 hours to our north is another longtime rival, the Wichita Thunder in Kansas.

This season the ECHL’s central division teams will not face many non-Division teams, but when they do it is expected to be a battle as the former CHL teams build new rosters better able to face the ECHL league’s speed and skill. We will check in monthly to see how they are faring this season. As of October 31st, the former CHL teams are 1-6-1-0 against “ECHL” teams and we expect to see that improve as other former CHL teams face their ECHL teams later in the season.

While some are only 3 games into the season it is worth a look at this point to see how they are doing at the end of October — keep in mind that Rapid City had an early start and are on their 6th game already:

Team GP W L OTL SOL Pts
Tulsa 4 2 1 1 0 5
Rapid City 6 2 3 0 1 5
Allen 3 2 1 0 0 4
Quad City 4 2 2 0 0 4
Wichita 3 1 1 1 0 3
Missouri 3 1 2 0 0 2
Brampton 3 0 2 1 0 1

 

Overall the ECHL leaders are the Ft. Wayne Komets 6 games into the season at the top the Eastern Conference with 10 points, and in the Western Conference, the Idaho Steelheads with 6 games lead with 10 points.

| The Tulsa Oilers started their season with two wins to begin the season, defeating the Americans 9-6 at Allen and then defeating Wichita at their home opener 6-5 in OT. Their longtime rival Wichita regrouped for their next matchup and shutout Tulsa 2-0 in Wichita and last night Missouri defeated Tulsa in OT 4-3. — Overall: 2-1-1-0.

Game #: Date: Time: Visiting Team: Home Team:
759 Fri, Oct 24, 2014 7:05 pm CDT Tulsa 9 at Allen 6
765 Sun, Oct 26, 2014 4:05 pm CDT Wichita 5 at Tulsa 6 in OT
767 Wed, Oct 29, 2014 7:05 pm CDT Tulsa 0 at Wichita 2
770 Fri, Oct 31, 2014 7:35 pm CDT Missouri 4 at Tulsa 3 in OT

 

| Rapid City Rush started their season early with the rest of the ECHL, a week earlier than the remaining Central Division teams, facing the Colorado Eagles twice (splitting games) before playing 3 games against Quad City winning only 1 of the three, and dropping their game against Allen 4-1 on Halloween. — Overall: 2-3-0-1.

Game #: Date: Time: Visiting Team: Home Team:
757 Fri, Oct 17, 2014 7:05 pm MDT Colorado 1 at Rapid City 5
758 Sat, Oct 18, 2014 7:05 pm MDT Colorado 3 at Rapid City 2
761 Fri, Oct 24, 2014 7:05 pm CDT Rapid City 3 at Quad City 0
762 Sat, Oct 25, 2014 7:05 pm CDT Rapid City 3 at Quad City 4 in SO
766 Tue, Oct 28, 2014 6:35 pm MDT Quad City 4 at Rapid City 1
769 Fri, Oct 31, 2014 8:05 pm MDT Allen 4 at Rapid City 1

 

| The Allen Americans lost their first game in rather spectacular fashion, defeated by Tulsa 9-6 at home, but came back strong the next night in Wichita to beat the Thunder 5-3, and last night defeating Rapid City 4-1. — Overall: 2-1-0-0.

Game #: Date: Time: Visiting Team: Home Team:
759 Fri, Oct 24, 2014 7:05 pm CDT Tulsa 9 at Allen 6
763 Sat, Oct 25, 2014 7:05 pm CDT Allen 5 at Wichita 3
769 Fri, Oct 31, 2014 8:05 pm MDT Allen 4 at Rapid City 1

 

| The Quad City Mallards dropped their home opener against Rapid City 3-0, but came back the next night winning 3-4 in a shootout. Their next game on the road they were able to defeat Rapid City again 4-1, but lost their 4th game vs Cincinnati 3-2. — Overall: 2-2-0-0.

Game #: Date: Time: Visiting Team: Home Team:
761 Fri, Oct 24, 2014 7:05 pm CDT Rapid City 3 at Quad City 0
762 Sat, Oct 25, 2014 7:05 pm CDT Rapid City 3 at Quad City 4 in SO
766 Tue, Oct 28, 2014 6:35 pm MDT Quad City 4 at Rapid City 1
768 Fri, Oct 31, 2014 7:05 pm CDT Cincinnati 3 at Quad City 2

 

| The Wichita Thunder were defeated at their home opener against Allen, but the team is beginning to work out some of their first game jitters as they came close to defeating Tulsa in OT in Tulsa, and finally they defeated the Oilers at home in a shutout 2-0. — Overall: 1-1-1-0.

Game #: Date: Time: Visiting Team: Home Team:
763 Sat, Oct 25, 2014 7:05 pm CDT Allen 5 at Wichita 3
765 Sun, Oct 26, 2014 4:05 pm CDT Wichita 5 at Tulsa 6 in OT
767 Wed, Oct 29, 2014 7:05 pm CDT Tulsa 0 at Wichita 2

 

| The Missouri Mavericks started their schedule against ECHL teams and lost both games against Indy (5-1) and Fort Wayne (6-2), but finally won their first game vs. the Tulsa Oilers last night 4-3 in OT. — Overall: 1-2-0-0

Game #: Date: Time: Visiting Team: Home Team:
26 Fri, Oct 24, 2014 7:35 pm EDT Missouri 1 at Indy 5
33 Sat, Oct 25, 2014 7:30 pm EDT Missouri 2 at Fort Wayne 6
770 Fri, Oct 31, 2014 7:35 pm CDT Missouri 4 at Tulsa 3 in OT

 

| The Brampton Beast jumped right into games against ECHL teams and saw losses in their first three games against the Toledo Walleye losing 6-3 and 4-2, and again being defeated 3-2 in OT vs Elmira, however they did come of that game with their first point of the season. — Overall: 0-2-1-0.

Game #: Date: Time: Visiting Team: Home Team:
760 Fri, Oct 24, 2014 7:30 pm EDT Toledo 6 at Brampton 3
764 Sun, Oct 26, 2014 2:00 pm EDT Toledo 4 at Brampton 2
50 Fri, Oct 31, 2014 7:05 pm EDT Brampton 2 at Elmira 3 in OT

We will check back at the end of November to see how the West’s Central Division is doing and in the meantime head out to watch a few of these teams!