Photo by Steven Christy
Congratulations, Oklahoma City Barons. You only won a single game this weekend (of two), and yet you have retained your spot as the best team (points wise) in the American Hockey League. Your journey to here and now is impressive, and with less than thirty games remaining, the world is your oyster. And remember, only buy oysters in months that have the letter “R” in them. Thanks grandma.
The Texas two-step that the Barons encountered this weekend was going to require some risky business to emerge unscathed. After some tough comp from the Lake Eri-tating Monsters a week ago, OKC would head south to play the San Antonio Rampage on Saturday night followed by the final trip to Austin (ever, most likely) to face the Texas Stars. This would roll out the beginning of a five-game road trip for the Barons as they march boldly towards Valentine’s Day.
Saturday night the Barons would jump out to a two-goal lead, and eventually allow San Antonio to get two right back. Then it was OKC that notched another followed by three straight in the third period for the Rampage. As I howled at the moon about the defensive guff that the Barons unfurled, I was also reminded that Richard Bachman is a human being. He is able to leap smallish doghouses in a single-bound, and is faster than a slow-moving Amtrack, but he is still flesh and bones (not steel, who knew?). When his defense caved, and his forward lost the puck battles, it got ugly. San Antonio ripped three straight goals, all at five on five, and all in span of 132 seconds. Nasty.
Hunt and both Hamilton’s would be your goal scorers with Brad and Ryan having multi-point nights. This tells me that perhaps there is a bit of a hole offensively that is shaped like a Finnish Hero that might be wandering around Edmonton these days. Then again, credit San Antonio for again being crafty, and again relying on Dan Ellis to be incredibly prepared and incredibly sound.
On Sunday afternoon at the CPC the offensive problems seemed to be fixed, and Brossoit would have a really good prospect hailing game against a team in Texas that is wanting to gain standing points and fast.
Glance at the bottom of this post for lines and pairs, but notice that the Barons ice 17 skaters on Sunday. Interesting, to say the least, but more telling is how well the forwards gelled against a rivalry opponent (with OKC hockey leaving soon, I’ll do a 180 and call the Texas / OKC a rivalry. about time).
Some funny business from Steve Pinizzotto the night before where he was given consecutive elbow and roughing penalties spilled over in to the first period of the game against Texas. A twelve minute unsportsmanlike penalty nearly (and probably should have) put the Stars up early, the Barons were able to do good work on the PK. Swapping goals, Andrew Miller and Derek Hulak would render the first period a tie.
Brad Hunt would whistle a gargantuan shot on the PP through Jussi Rynnas to give the Barons a one-goal lead. Jujhar Khaira would tack on some insurance, his third of the year, to allow the Barons to hang on by two goals. Despite a early power play goal in the third from Greg Rallo, the Barons and Laurent Brossoit were able to cling to a one-goal lead for nearly nineteen minutes.
The Barons would split the weekend games, but crest the butte of the AHL mountain with 66 points just ahead of the Syracuse Crunch in the East with 65. The real barn burner in the West is the battle for the final playoff spot with sixth and eleventh being separated by six points.
The Barons will head to Chicago on Friday where they will begin a three-in-three (Rockford Saturday, Iowa Sunday). But fret not, for a five game home-stand is just around the corner.
Scratched – Connor Jones (DTD), Kale Kessy & Kellan Lain
Scratched – Matt Ford (DTD), Connor Jones (DTD(, Kale Kessy & Kellan Lain