Oilers Farm Team To Be Called…Bakersfield Condors

The Bakersfield Condors, the newly announced Edmonton Oilers AHL affiliate beginning in the 15-16 season, have lauded over us the fact that the team had a big announcement to be made on February 25th. That announcement would be the unveiling of a new team name. That day has come, and gone, and we know that the Bakersfield Condors will now be called…the Bakersfield Condors.

In a silly moment, that the Bakersfield organization has come to be known for, they announced the team name would be the same. This, after a fan vote, but most likely a light discussion behind the scenes, and eventual “sticking to their guns”.

I like this, and I think the fans in California did too as evidenced by this great video:

Good on the Oilers for allowing the team to keep the same name (not that they would ever suggest differently). Good on the fans in Bakersfield, who are no stranger to a gimmick. They are a good folk, and they’ll no doubt carry the Oilers farm team flag well.

Oklahoma City (Again) Beats A Team In OT, Texas Farewell

Photo by Steven Christy

The Oklahoma City Barons hosted the Texas Stars for what certainly is the last regular season match-up between the two, but it quite honestly might be the last time the two teams meet EVER. With Oklahoma City exiting the AHL 14-15 season, the farewell tour begins, and it begins against a familiar opponent.

The Texas Stars came to the Cox Center climbing the charts. Looking incredibly sturdy over the last ten, and gaining points in the West, they would give the Barons a good run for their money on a chilly Tuesday evening in Bricktown.

“We are going to play our game regardless of the opponent,” said Gerry Fleming earlier this week. “We know what we can do, we will stick to the plan.” They did do just that, but Texas is a solid opponent with their stock on the rise.

Texas would score the games first two goals including one from Eric Faille in the first :99 of the game, and another by Julius Honka in the second period. Some early power play time was the downfall for OKC, whom were unable to convert with a man advantage until late in the game when they needed it the most.

Brandon Davidson and Jason Williams would score goals in the late minutes of the second and third periods to finally nudge the game towards a tie. Defensively the Stars remained sound, but the pressurized OKC offense gave Jussi Rynnas just enough of a workout to solve his glove and stick sides.

On the other side of the ice, Laurent Brossoit let in two goals in 29 minutes of play, and then was splendid for the back half stopping 22 shots.

When the crunchtime goal was scored late by Jason Williams, after a Meech penalty for interference, the Barons would head towards sealing up their 13th victory of the season – an AHL record.

It took time at 4 on 4 then 3 on 3 for Curtis Hamilton and Andrew Miller to pop the cork on some pesky offense. Miller scores the goal, but Curtis Hamilton had a dandy of a shift to make things happen. The Oklahoma City Barons would defeat the Texas Stars, 3-2 in OT, in what might have been the last meeting between the teams separated by a nasty river called the Red.

Oklahoma City Barons Lineup:

C. Hamilton-Williams-Ford
Schaber-Yakimov-Winquist
Moroz-Khaira-Ewanyk
K.Jones-C.Jones-Miller

Hunt-Davidson
Simpson-Musil
Craig-Gernat

Brossoit

Scratches: Steve Pinizzotto, Kale Kessy & Kellan Lain (injured)

C.J. Stretch Comes “Home”, Acquired By OKC

C.J. Stretch, a fan favorite in recent OKC Barons seasons gone by, has been acquired from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The official release mentions Bill Scott’s announcement, and hangs a “future consideration” tag on what Bridgeport receives in return.

More on the C.J. Stretch signing. For now, the official announcement:

The Oklahoma City Barons acquired center C.J. Stretch from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers for future considerations, Barons General Manager Bill Scott announced today.

Stretch, a 5-11, 195-pounder from Irvine, CA joins the Barons after scoring 27 points (7-20-27) in 45 games with Bridgeport this season.

Among the most popular players to don a Barons jersey, Stretch has appeared in 89 games with Oklahoma City, collecting 37 points (18-19-37). During his professional career, Stretch has scored 204 points (83-121-204) in 309 games played in the ECHL with Ontario and American Hockey League with Houston, OKC and Bridgeport.

The Barons Split The Weekend, Fragility Apparent

The Oklahoma City Barons of a week ago were leading the league in standing points, and seemed to be poised to ride that pony through most of February and in to March. They were tough, competitive nightly, and resilient from behind – basically the stuff of AHL greatness. But recent games have proven that there are a few cracks in the facade.

The team split a pair of home games with the Adirondack Flames over the weekend (Friday and Saturday) and likely should have lost both.

Game one, Friday evening, was a back and forth affair that wielded a soggy 1/7 on the PP for the Barons, but also gave us a fantastic Bogdan Yakimov overtime goal to seal the 4-3 victory. The lineup is rather, well, deflated at best with so many “normal” Barons in the NHL aiding the IR-riddled Edmonton Oilers. The holes are apparent, and nothing short of expected this time of year. For your consideration:

C. Hamilton-Williams-Ford
Winquist-Yakimov-Miller
Moroz-Khaira-Ewanyk
K. Jones-C. Jones-Schaber

Hunt-Davidson
Simpson-Musil
Craig-Gernat

Brossoit

Second line left winger, Josh Winquist, was an ECHLer to start the season. Keep that in mind. Jason Williams and Matt Ford are AHL contracted players. Curtis Hamilton and Bogdan Yakimov are the only two players drafted by the Oilers playing in the top six. Yakimov clearly the better prospect at this point. That is sort of bothersome. Yet the team is getting scoring from all four lines. This, no doubt, is a credit to coaching and goaltending. Brossoit is starting to head the right way, but needs to play consistently. But don’t sleep on this Barons defense, which has enough goodness hanging around to keep them relevant through the regular season.

Nonetheless, the Friday game was a record-breaking 12th OT victory. The team is hard to beat down to the finish, but with the weakening of the forward core things could get scary. Yet the Barons will be well-tested through March and early April, and will gain reinforcements to emphasize the broken portions of the lineup.

Saturday night was a similar affair for OKC albeit with a different, but logical outcome. The Barons again scored a goal on the PP, but 1 out of 6. That lone goal was Curtis Hamilton’s eleventh of the season. Sandwiched by Flames goals via Ferland and Reinhart, against a team that is just over .500 causes my eye to twitch. Then again, this is hockey, minor league hockey, and things happen.

The fragility of the Barons isn’t consistent, but it’s consistently there. Meaning that they are prone to mistakes, hard-wired to falter, and pre-conditioned to need heavier scoring / defending leaders like Lander, Pakarinen, Marincin and Klefbom. With all four likely graduating through the end of the NHL season, it is hard to pin point exactly whom is going to take charge with OKC the next month of the season.

Curtis Hamilton seems the likely candidate, and that feels odd given his struggles both to stay healthy and to consistently beat average play. Perhaps the one stand out in this whole thing becomes Bogdan Yakimov who is a guy that really needs a healthy dose of self motivation to gain traction. He seemingly has plateaued, not in numbers, but in progress. Now’s the time to shine.

Defensively the world revolves around Brossoit. He has to be the best he can be, and quite frankly he’s capable. I’ll say this, he is likely the best goaltending prospect the Oilers have had in six seasons. That’s saying something. And if the team can get good play from Hunt (eek!), Davidson, Simpson and Musil, the team will be fine for the duration of the regular season.

Lotta ballgame left, as they say, and things are starting to cook in the AHL as well as the NHL. Enjoy the ride.

Steve Pinizzotto Out 4-6 Weeks

Yesterday, during an interview with Jason Gregor, Oklahoma City Barons coach Gerry Fleming mentioned some important things. He discussed Laurent Brossoit and his future as an Oilers goaltender. He talked movement within the lineup. He talked about the league-leading Barons monumental positioning in February of 2015. He mentioned his friend, Todd Nelson, and his successes in Oil country. But perhaps the most important bit of news came from out of the blue.

Apparently Steve Pinizzotto has undergone knee surgery, and will indeed miss 4-6 weeks of play. This comes after playing in the Barons lineup only two days ago.

The current injury report for the Barons looks like this:

Matt Ford (still listed as day to day), Kale Kessy (IR), Kellan Lain (IR), Steven Pinizzotto (IR).

The defenders are healthy (thank goodness), but if you couple the injuries with the recent call-ups to Edmonton (again, due to injury), the Oklahoma City Barons are looking mighty thin.

Roster as it stands:

11 Forwards – Curtis Hamilton, Jason Williams, Josh Winquist, Bogdan Yakimov, Andrew Miller, Mitch Moroz, Jujhar Khaira, Travis Ewanyk, Kellen Jones, Connor Jones, Chase Scahber

7 Defenders – Brad Hunt, Brandon Davidson, Jordan Oesterle, David Musil, Dillon Simpson, Martin Gernat, Graeme Craig

2 Goaltenders – Laurent Brossoit, Tyler Bunz

Magnus Paajarvi Beats OKC, Alicia Silverstone In Attendance (Seriously)

During the first and second intermission of the Oklahoma City Barons at Chicago Wolves game, Ryan Kwanten of True Blood fame, emerged from the tunnel wearing goaltender pads (this is now his second trip to the Wolves arena). Flanked by Alicia Silverstone, the two were filming in Illinois for an upcoming independent rom-com called Who Gets The Dog?. This film is probably right in my wheelhouse, but it was the only sweet, kind, or otherwise romantic moment of the game for anyone wearing an OKC sweater.

It was a sluggish game from the get-go for the Barons as they would struggle to take more than fifteen shots in the first forty minutes. Credit the Chicago Wovles, and their suddenly consistent defense and goaltending in this one. The Barons looked flat, frail, and a bit fragile at times. Nothing like the world-beaters we have known them to be of late.

The moral of the story is that Magnus Paajarvi would dagger of the heart of his former team in the closing minutes of the third period. After stopping 34 straight shots, it was the 35th that solved the problem of Laurent Brossoit who played some super pesky netminding. With less than ninety seconds remaining in the game, Magnus Paajarvi whistled in his fifth goal of the AHL season.

The penalties were few (a lone slash), and thus the Barons had no way of taking advantage of having an extra skater. This is probably not how the team envisioned the beginning of their three-in-three through the Midwest. The team travels to Rockford on Valentine’s Day.

Props to the Chicago Sun Times for the rom-com update – http://chicago.suntimes.com/hockey/7/71/368698/wolves-continue-surge-1-0-win-oklahoma-city

Oklahoma City Barons Lineup:

C. Hamilton-Williams-Pinizzotto
Winquist-Yakimov-Miller
Moroz-Khaira-Ewanyk
K. Jones-C. Jones-Schaber

Hunt-Davidson
Oesterle-Musil
Simpson-Gernat

Brossoit

Scratches: Matt Ford (DTD), Kale Kessy & Kellan Lain (IR), Graeme Craig (healthy)

AHL Today: February 13, 2015

Pos Team GP Points Pts % Max Pts Pace Pts Pos Change
1 * – Oklahoma City Barons 47 66 0.702 124 107
2 * – Milwaukee Admirals 48 63 0.656 119 100
3 * – Utica Comets 47 62 0.660 120 100
4 San Antonio Rampage 47 58 0.617 116 94
5 Rockford IceHogs 48 58 0.604 114 92
6 Chicago Wolves 49 56 0.571 110 87
7 Grand Rapids Griffins 47 55 0.585 113 89
8 Adirondack Flames 48 54 0.563 110 86
9 Hamilton Bulldogs 48 54 0.563 110 86
10 Texas Stars 48 53 0.552 109 84
11 Lake Erie Monsters 47 51 0.543 109 82
12 Toronto Marlies 46 47 0.511 107 78
13 Rochester Americans 50 45 0.450 97 68
14 Charlotte Checkers 49 40 0.408 94 62
15 Iowa Wild 50 36 0.360 88 55
Pos Team GP Points Pts % Max Pts Pace Pts Pos Change
1 * – Syracuse Crunch 48 65 0.677 121 103
2 * – Manchester Monarchs 46 64 0.696 124 106
3 * – Hershey Bears 47 61 0.649 119 99
4 Springfield Falcons 49 60 0.612 114 93
5 Hartford Wolf Pack 48 59 0.615 115 93
6 WBS Penguins 50 59 0.590 111 90
7 Worcester Sharks 47 55 0.585 113 89
8 Portland Pirates 48 55 0.573 111 87
9 Providence Bruins 49 54 0.551 108 84
10 Albany Devils 48 53 0.552 109 84
11 St. John’s IceCaps 51 51 0.500 101 76
12 Lehigh Valley Phantoms 47 49 0.521 107 79
13 Bridgeport Sound Tigers 48 48 0.500 104 76
14 Norfolk Admirals 48 43 0.448 99 68
15 Binghamton Senators 47 42 0.447 100 68

AHL Today: February 12th, 2015

Updated Standings

Pos Team GP Points Pts % Max Pts Pace Pts Pos Change
1 * – Oklahoma City Barons 47 66 0.702 124 107
2 * – Milwaukee Admirals 48 63 0.656 119 100 ↑1
3 * – Utica Comets 47 62 0.660 120 100 ↓1
4 San Antonio Rampage 47 58 0.617 116 94
5 Rockford IceHogs 48 58 0.604 114 92
6 Chicago Wolves 49 56 0.571 110 87 ↑2
7 Grand Rapids Griffins 47 55 0.585 113 89 ↓1
8 Adirondack Flames 48 54 0.563 110 86 ↓1
9 Hamilton Bulldogs 48 54 0.563 110 86
10 Texas Stars 48 53 0.552 109 84
11 Lake Erie Monsters 46 49 0.533 109 81
12 Toronto Marlies 46 47 0.511 107 78
13 Rochester Americans 50 45 0.450 97 68
14 Charlotte Checkers 48 40 0.417 96 63
15 Iowa Wild 50 36 0.360 88 55
Pos Team GP Points Pts % Max Pts Pace Pts Pos Change
1 * – Syracuse Crunch 48 65 0.677 121 103
2 * – Manchester Monarchs 46 64 0.696 124 106
3 * – Hershey Bears 47 61 0.649 119 99
4 Springfield Falcons 49 60 0.612 114 93
5 Hartford Wolf Pack 48 59 0.615 115 93
6 WBS Penguins 50 59 0.590 111 90
7 Worcester Sharks 47 55 0.585 113 89
8 Portland Pirates 48 55 0.573 111 87
9 Providence Bruins 49 54 0.551 108 84
10 Albany Devils 48 53 0.552 109 84
11 St. John’s IceCaps 51 51 0.500 101 76 ↑1
12 Lehigh Valley Phantoms 47 49 0.521 107 79 ↓1
13 Bridgeport Sound Tigers 48 48 0.500 104 76
14 Norfolk Admirals 48 43 0.448 99 68
15 Binghamton Senators 47 42 0.447 100 68

Oklahoma City Has “Expressions Of Interest” When It Comes To ECHL

The buzz words when it comes to Oklahoma City and the its future in the hockey world are two-fold – any and everyBy that, we as fans, look for any and every opportunity to pull out sweet nectar from articles, podcasts, radio interviews, and TV spots praying for a pleasant, and tasty bit of hope. Sometimes we are disppointed by the lack of news, and every once in a while we climb the fire escape towards the top of a Bricktown brownstone and bellow a long, but proud “HOORAY”.

To that end, ECHL head honcho Commissioner Brian McKenna had a brief mention of Oklahoma City in a recent article posted online via The Times Union in Albany, New York. The article mainly honed in on the future of the Albany Devils including the recent arena lease, but as a footnote he mentions two other cities that might enter the ECHL fray. (read full article here)

ECHL commissioner Brian McKenna, who was present Friday at news conferences in both Glens Falls and Manchester, said the league finalized its roster last week and will remain at 28 teams. He said the league is hoping to get to 30, matching the total of the NHL and AHL, likely in time for the 2016-17 season.

“We’ve had expressions of interest (from Worcester and Oklahoma City), but nothing that could be brought to us quickly enough,” McKenna said. “In other words, putting together the ownership, getting a lease in place, getting all components in place in order to react in time for the ’15-’16 season.”

All signs point to Oklahoma City still being a viable candidate for hockey rather than the puck-less ghost town some assume it might become. This is huge. Not only do we get legit confirmation of an owner dealing with Oklahoma City, but perhaps an actual plan.

The huge hurdle remains the city of OKC, and their co-habitation with hockey, which has turned sour in recent years with Prodigal LLC at the helm. As the city and Prodigal end their tenure in the Cox Center, a new tenant could move in, just not quickly enough to join the 28 team ECHL in 15-16.

Neither myself, nor most OKC hockey fans assumed that things would just fall in to place. Any owner, local or otherwise, is gonna have to convince the city and fans that they are putting together a viable product. One that is potent, affordable, entertaining, and certainly not the OKC Barons v2.0. Why? Identity. Five years has created an awful lot of low-attendance / fan fatigue in the eyes of many. Proving you can return OKC to a successful hockey town is going to take work, but it isn’t beyond impossible.