Grand Rapids Hammers OKC 7-1, Pulkkinen The Trick

Photo by Sam Iannamico. All rights reserved.

I apologize in advance. I told you that number one OKC vs number two Grand Rapids would be a showcase of two of the best teams to play in the West. That Brossoit vs. Mrazek would be one dandy of a goaltending fight. That Andrew Miller was somehow on the same plataeu as Teemu Pulkkinen. That defensively the Barons could somehow match the skill and size of a team that has long been filled with smart, intelligent, and fabulous forwards. I was wrong.

March 4th, 2015 will go in the record books as a game to forget if you are a fan of the Oklahoma City Barons. The Grand Rapids Griffins would hammer the Oklahoma City Barons 7-1 as Teemu Pulkkinen scores a hat trick.

The strangest thing happened to start the game. Andrew Miller, in the first two minutes of the game, would make one amazing highlight reel of a pass to Martin Gernat. That pass, nearly behind the net, hit Gernat right on his stick as he charged full steam at opposing goaltender Petr Mrazek. Mrazek, having never lost to the Barons before, looked dumbfounded by Gernat’s first goal of the season. Frankly, I was too. It was a fantastic showcase of talent, and the Barons appeared to be in fine condition. What happened next was an unsightly finish.

The Griffins would go on a seven goal tear through the next 58 minutes. It was really quite a thing to behold, and yet it made me nauseous. Two goals in the first period, two goals in the second period, three goals in the third – that’s seven straight goals from the Midwestern team of infant Red Wings.

Teemu Pulkkinen, a blue chipper of a prospect, would have three goals (not including one disallowed for interference) as did four other Griffins players. The Barons were bumfuzzled.

Laurent Brossoit isn’t entirely to blame for the four straight he let in, after all he played two periods and stopped 23 of 27. Should have been better, but he didn’t have much to work with in front of him. Nonetheless, in came Tyler Bunz when the game was 4-1 and teetering on insufferable. Bunz hadn’t had a gametime rep since the end of January. His last AHL playing time? Over an entire calendar year ago. So he comes in and gives up three more. Three goals on ten shots, and the shellacking continued.

The eventual 7-1 victory for the Griffins would be their ninth straight win, and a peek behind the curtain of the current shape of the Barons. Are they better than losing 7-1 on the road? Sure they are. Yet it is hard to find a way to explain how mismatched they looked against the world-beaters in Grand Rapids.

The top defensive pairing in Brandon Davidson and Brad Hunt was hit with wave upon wave of acceleration. Davidson would be on the ice for four of the goals. Brad Hunt would be on the ice for five (caught in a shift change for the extra). Offensively the Barons had their chances, and even within the multi-goal deficit they found themselves in, players could find seems. They would end the night taking nearly forty shots, but going zero in three chances on the power play. They simply were unable to execute as well as the Griffins, and Van Andel Arena became an un-comely sight (sidenote: one of the best minor league arenas in the country).

So the Barons begin the three-game road swing with a loss, a bad loss, and will do their best to resurrect themselves against Rockford on Friday. With twenty games until the end of the season, let us hope that March 4th, 2015 in Grand Rapids goes in the record books as an apparition, a Casper-like moment that disappears when the lights come on. CLICK I’ve already forgotten.

Oklahoma City Barons Lineup:

C. Hamilton-Williams-Ford
Miller-Yakimov-Stretch
Moroz-Ewanyk-Aliu
K. Jones-Khaira-C. Jones

Davidson-Hunt
Simpson-Musil
Gernat-Ludwig

Laurent Brossoit (Bunz in relief, final 20:00)

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

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