Barons Lose Thrice, Injuries To Blame

Photo by Steven Christy

It’s Monday. That phrase, in and of itself, will bring you to your knees. The bellows of the weekend seem like a faint whisper in the distance, and you can tell by the size of my Starbucks flat white this morning that the start of the work week is throttling my every sense.

I’ve queued up my favorite tracks by Tralmpled by Turtles, I’ve blown my nose twice (thanks elm trees, you scabs), and I’ve begun to reminisce about the weekend that was Barons hockey at the incomparable Cox Center.

The back-end of a seven game homestand is supposed to be fun, fan-fueled, and foxy. Instead it was feeble, fragile, and just plain frowzy. Three games in three days is tough, but is usually manageable at home (your own bed, your own shower, your own food, your own XBOX). Yet the Oklahoma City Barons have been bit by the injury bug, nay they’ve been doctored on using those grabby tweezers in the game ‘Operation’. Yet Jujhar Khaira has actually injured his real elbow, and not his “funny bone”, and poor Akim Alium only wishes he had butterflies in his stomach and not a concussion-like situation.

Before we begin to digest the nuts and bolts of the week that was, let’s give a quick injury report:

Confirmed out for rest of season: Jujhar Khaira, Kale Kessy, Kellen Lain, Steve Pinizzotto

Confirmed as day-to-day: Akim Aliu

Confirmed illness over weekend: Curtis Hamilton, Bogdan Yakimov, Chase Schaber

Those missing brief minutes this week due to injury: Martin Gernat, Connor Jones

The we-aren’t-quite-sure-about-health list: Brad Winchester (played, but has been on/off injuries for months)

That’s eight players missing, two gimpy, but playing, and one still up in the air (although he seemed fine). When the dust settled on the weekend the Barons were playing a Ty Rattie-infused Chicago team with just eight forwards and six defenders (Brad Hunt playing wing). It also has given us a 19th straight start from Laurent Brossoit, and backup goaltender in Tyler Bunz that has yet to grab a start in months.

Uncle.

Coming off a loss to Milwaukee on Tuesday, the Barons would welcome the San Antonio Rampage and the Chicago Wolves twice. The nitty gritty on these matchups is that in the month of March – they matter. San Antonio is closing the gap on OKC in the West Division while Chicago is fighting tooth and nail for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. With those team’s desperately wanting wins, and a depleted Barons squad trying to swat flys away from their high tower in the West, it quickly became a disastrous scenario.

Friday’s game against San Antonio was probably the most fairest of the maidens. The Barons would score once on the power play, and score twice in the opening eleven minutes of the game (thanks to Mitch Moroz and Jordan Oesterle). But the Rampage, having already scored the games opening number, would tie the game in the final minutes of the first period, and notch a short-hander on a brutal giveaway to start the second. Shane O’Brien would nearly be the goat for his team as he gave the Barons back-to-back penalties that allowed Josh Winquist to score a power play goal (assists to Jason Williams AND Laurent Brossoit, WOO!) to even the game. Both teams buttoned up their defense tight, goaltenders played a big part in that, and the Rampage and Barons would head to overtime. Two minutes in the Rampage score, and they would take a tight grip on the West Division lead. 4-3 in OT was your final with Brossoit stopping 31 of 35, and the Barons struggling to be “chancy” in the overtime frame (not taking a single shot).

Saturday the team felt the weight of a continued injury-riddled roster, but also a strengthening Chicago Wolves team, and the Ty Rattie’s of the world. The game would go deep without scoring, but eventually the team’s would each etch a goal in the third period of the game with Chicago scoring the equalizer in the final three minutes of the game. Brad Hunt was the lone goal scorer for OKC, and it came on the power play (the second in two nights, upside!). But it would be Ty Rattie, seemingly over his injury problems, with a sweet assist from Magnus Paajarvi to put the Wolves on top in overtime. The 2-1 loss for OKC saw little improvement from the night before, and actually seemed a bit worse.

After securing at least a standing point in the first two games of the three in three, the final game of the weekend was as hilariously dreadful as they come. But keep in mind, they can’t help themselves.

Sunday, the Barons would open the scoring in the first period. Jason Williams would rattle off the Barons third PP goal in three games, his 20th of the season, and it appeared the Barons would be “okay”. They weren’t. Chicago would score four straight goals including the 29th for the suddenly-really-good Shane Harper. Laurent Brossoit looked like he had been hit with a two by four after the second goal, and indeed the game rolled downhill from that point forward. The dust would settle, the Wolves would win 4-1, and young Brossoit would pull himself back together after facing nearly fifty shots on net.

In all it could have been much worse, but losing ground in the West was certainly not the plan. Take a gander at the OKC Barons lineups for each night:

Friday Night:

Scratches: Yakimov, C. Hamilton, Schaber, Aliu, Khaira, Pinizzotto, Kessy & Lain (all injured/sick)

Winchester-William
Stretch; K. Jones
C. Jones-Ford
Moroz-Ewanyk-Winquist
Mele

Hunt-Davidson
Simpson-Musil
Gernat-Oesterle
Ludwig

Brossoit

Saturday Night:

Scratches: Yakimov, C. Hamilton, Schaber, Aliu, Khaira, Pinizzotto, Kessy & Lain (all injured/sick)

Winchester-Williams-Stretch
K. Jones-C. Jones-Ford
Moroz-Ewanyk-Winquist
Mele

Hunt-Davidson
Simpson-Musil
Gernat-Oesterle
Ludwig

Brossoit

Sunday Night:

Scratches: Gernat, Mele, Yakimov, C. Hamilton, Schaber, Aliu, Khaira, Pinizzotto, Kessy & Lain (all injured/sick)

Winchester-Williams-Stretch
K. Jones-C. Jones-Ford
Moroz-Ewanyk-Winquist

Hunt-Davidson
Simpson-Musil
Ludwig-Oesterle

Brssoit

The Barons skate on over to Toronto on Wednesday and Gerry Fleming promises to “pound the phone” and find players to fill a roster. He actually used those words – I’m not sure what they mean – but he used them.