Photo courtesy Steven Christy Photography. All Rights Reserved.
Laurent Brossoit has been carrying the Oklahoma City Barons since February 12th, when Richard Bachman was called up to the Edmonton Oilers. Since then, the young goaltender has started fifteen straight games for the Barons. The latest two starts came this past weekend as the Charlotte Checkers made their final trip to the Cox Convention Center, trying to hold onto what small chances they had at getting into the playoffs, but seeing them diminish as the season comes to an end.
Saturday night started on a high note as the Barons opened the scoring late in the first period on a power play with Brad Hunt picking up a rebound in close and getting the puck past Charlotte goaltender John Muse. Hunt’s goal was his fifteenth of the season, picking up assists from Matthew Ford and Andrew Miller.
The Checkers tied up the contest in the second period, also on the power play, with Phil Di Giuseppe earning his eighth goal of the season, assisted by Brody Sutter and Tyler Carrick.
Thirty-three minutes elapsed and the game looked destined for overtime, but a suspect slashing penalty was called against Curtis Hamilton at the 19:33 mark of the third period. The Barons had trouble controlling any of the faceoffs on the ensuing power play, and Charlotte took advantage. With just 1.6 seconds left on the clock, Zach Boychuk found the back of the net, giving the Checkers the 2-1 win.
Sunday afternoon, the Barons looked to rebound and try to salvage two points on the weekend, with the conference-leading Grand Rapids Griffins idle. With the short turnaround, the Checkers switched goaltenders for Sunday with Drew MacIntyre in net.
Curtis Hamilton didn’t let the sour end to the night before hamper his mindset, as he took just 73 seconds to open the scoring and give the Barons a 1-0 lead. The Jones Brothers added another tally about six minutes later, with Kellen Jones assisting Connor to make it 2-0. Then Andrew Miller scored his first goal of the game at the 15:19 mark of the period to make it a 3-0 game, with the Barons outshooting the Checkers 15-9 in the first.
Brandon Davidson had the lone goal in the second period at the 6:32 mark, scoring his fourth goal of the season to make it 4-0 through 40 minutes of play.
The third period started to get a bit testy as the Checkers tried to fight back, and that’s literally what Mike Cornell and Mitch Moroz did at the 5:51 mark of the period, dropping the gloves before a faceoff. Both ended up getting misconducts added on top of the fighting majors, effectively ending their nights.
Trevor Carrick then starting to take some liberties against the Barons, picking up three minors in the final 13 minutes. That started to rub both teams the wrong way, as Carrick started to take those liberties against the Barons Top Six, prompting coach Gerry Fleming to continue putting the Barons top power play unit on the ice even with the 4-0 lead. Andrew Miller scored his second and third goals of the game just a minute apart to put the Barons up 6-0 late in the third. Miller’s hat trick was the first for the Barons this season, and also Miller’s first career pro hat trick.
With Brossoit on his way to his third shutout of the season, Brendan Woods put an end to that bid at the 18:59 mark of the third. The 6-1 score would be the final, earning a split for the Barons on the weekend.
Following the game, Checkers assistant coach Geordie Kinnear and coach Fleming had a war of words regarding Fleming’s use of the first power play unit so late in the game. Nothing came of it in the end, but it was a rare show of emotion from the Barons coaching staff that we haven’t seen too many times before.
The win puts the Barons just two points behind the Griffins now, with the Barons having one game in hand on Grand Rapids.
Laurent Brossoit has now gone 8-7-0 in his fifteen straight starts, posting a .926 SV% and a 2.25 GAA.
The Barons are back in action on Tuesday night, taking on the Milwaukee Admirals. It was just one week ago that the Barons beat the Admirals 5-1, and they’ll look to mimic that again on Tuesday.