The Oklahoma City Barons played a two-set this week against the Charlotte Checkers in North Carolina prior to the All-Star break. With three (four if you count Lander) Barons on the All-Star roster for the Western Conference, they’d make the trip owning one of the best records in the league. At the other end of the spectrum is the Charlotte Checkers, who’ve had an up and down and up again season through 40+ games.
It would be a lesson in frustration in game one as the Charlotte Checkers would score the games first goal, and the Barons would scratch and claw their way back to victory. In game two, Charlotte would again score early, but OKC couldn’t muster the offensive strength to overcome a two-goal deficit.
The game one goaltending situation would place All-Star Richard Bachman in net against the not-so-awful John Muse. Bachman would be treated to a low shot total (seven in the first, and only four in the second) from Charlotte, and after allowing the games first goal, would be untested until the final moments of regulation.
Chad LaRose scored in the final five minutes of period one, and it felt like Charlotte was going to be hit with the lucky stick. In return, the Barons would score three unanswered in the second period to really seal the deal before the third period arrived.
The second period talking points were less about the goals and more about the Pinizzotto and Moroz fights and roughs and other stuffs. The nasty side of the game, for once, favored the Barons. This led Charlotte to play “catch up” the remainder of the game. A late shot flurry in front of Bachman wasn’t enough, and the Barons would courageously win 3-1.
The second game in two nights for both clubs felt oddly out of place. The Barons would again be playing from behind, but their otherwise stingy penalty kill (one of the best in the league) would allow two man advantage goals in five attempts.
It took the Barons a good 15:00 to find their sea legs, and Laurent Brossoit felt the weight of the sluggish start. He would be fine through the first 20:00 of the game, but two second period goals placed the team in attack mode for the remainder of the game.
A second period goal by Kellen Jones gave life to the Barons before the final 20:00 of the game began, but a carry over tripping penalty allowed Brody Sutter to again give the Checkers a two-goal lead.
Iiro Pakarinen would scored his 17th of the season in the dying minutes of the third period, but credit Charlotte tender, Drew MacIntyre, for playing a pretty good game facing 30+ shots.
Oklahoma City would lose the second game 2-3.
The Barons would lose one of two, and display a bit of nasty behavior in both games. McGinn and perhaps Pinizzotto could be looking at pre-ASG suspensions after this one (assuming the league was paying attention)
Headed in to the All-Star break the Barons are the best team in the league with 61 points.
Thursday Starting Lineup:
K. Jones-C. Jones-Ford
Friday Starting Lineup:
K. Jones-C. Jones-Ford