Photo by Steven Christy
Coming off a hot December and an equally as hot early January, the Oklahoma City Barons were forced to battle through a home three-in-three against the familiar Texas Stars and the unfamiliar Rochester Americans. Despite losses being few and far between these days, the Barons would lose twice in the span of 72 hours.
The first two games, against the Texas Stars, come with the knowledge that scouts and media from Edmonton are littered throughout the Cox Center. The Barons would arm themselves with Laurent Brossoit in game one, and Richard Bachman in game two – both netminders being sturdy to start the new year.
Brossoit would give up two even strength goals in the second frame that would be the only scoring on the evening for either club. The 2-0 loss was earmarked by some poor power play gaming by OKC alongside some of the laziest defense we’ve seen in the 14-15 season.
Nearly forty shots taken, some of the unhealthy quality, weren’t enough to beat Jussi Rynnas even once, and the Stars goaltender would earn the shutout victory. The 2-0 Friday night game was completed, and the Barons knew what had to be done in round two on Saturday.
Saturday’s game felt like it was going the way of Friday’s as an early Iiro Pakarinen boarding penalty gave way to a Meech goal in first ten minutes of the game. But the sticks got good for the home team as the Barons rattled off three unanswered goals from the 11:34 mark of the first period until 7:01 of the second. Andrew Miller would catapult himself with a goal and an assist in that time frame, and Richard Bachman would close the windows and lock the doors.
But an early third period short handed goal (the Barons first short-handed given of the season) by Texas gave a little bit of life to the team from the South. With a 3-2 lead, Bogdan Yakimov would score his second goal of the game, and help seal the deal for OKC. In the closing :30 Iiro Pakarinen would put in an empty netter to round out a good night of hockey.
Bachman was tested often by his former team, but it was the defense to offense transition that won out on this evening. The Andrew Miller – Bogdan Yakimov – Iiro Pakarinen line would be responsible for four out of the five goals, and in front of Edmonton brass – that’s great news.
Sunday’s game was a completely different beast of burden.
The Rochester Americans, on a southern swing, would face-off against Laurent Brossoit who has been less-than-sturdy in the last couple of starts. At the other end was the young Russian goaltender, Andrey Makarov, who is still in the midst of his first ELC.
To attempt to sum up this game would be an absolute travesty. I couldn’t do it justice, really. It was a tire fire for three straight periods. Here are your goals and penalties via the AHL website:
As you can see, the game was a goal-scoring frenzy, a defensive slap in the face, and nightmare-ish sixty minutes for goaltenders. These types of games happen every once in a while, usually not more than once to the same team in the same year, but this one is an odd duck. A rarely seen opponent can do that to you, and it can also make you want to forget the whole thing happened in the first place.
Needless to say, regulation wasn’t enough to put the nail in the coffin, and thus we went to OT and eventually a SO. Here are those results:
The Barons were completely out of skill and most importantly gas. When the dust settled the Americans won 8-7. The Barons would have six different goal scorers, Pakarinen with two, and thirteen players with at least a single point. WOW.
A healthy and spirited crowd witnessed a rare thing on Sunday, but in terms of meaningfulness – this one is a wash.
In summation, it was a wild up and down weekend for the Barons (which happens when Oilers media and persona are in town). Thursday and Friday the Barons travel to Charlotte then will return home for a two-set against Lake Erie. Now is the time to scrape together as many wins as possible, and for now the Barons have a tiny blemish in their armor. They will fix it, I know they will.