Charlotte Checkers vs. Oklahoma City Barons Preview: It’s A System

Checkers vs. Oklahoma City Barons 1-11-13
Photo by Rob Ferguson.

Oklahoma City. A place where the wind sweeps down the plains, where the wavin’ wheat smells sweet, and the wind always comes right behind (and before and during) the rain. A town that I’ve called home for the better part of half of my life, and where my family has grown. A destination that’s gone from cow town to oil town to new energy to professional sports market to a new business promoter and beyond. A spot on the map where, despite these changes, it’s the people that have gone unchanged since statehood in 1907. A spirited outpost that is more than a wild west gong show of old. A locale that isn’t the first place one points to and says, “I want to live there!”, but when they leave those same people say, “I want to go back there!” And truthfully there’s no better time to be in Oklahoma than now.

Lost in the sea of NBA playoffs, Sooners quarterback controversy, Cowboys recruiting news, and other various sports meanderings are the Oklahoma City Barons. The newest sports franchise in OKC that in three years has made the playoffs, and had some pretty memorable moments along the way. So today, we few who follow, love, cherish, and promote the Barons better than any other single entity in the metro area, look forward to a quick five game quarterfinal series against the Charlotte Checkers. With the Calder Cup being the final destination, I boldly declare this the year of the Western Conference! No more Eastern Conference domination, it’s time for a non-traditional hockey market to punch the league in the jaw, win the whole thing, and ease my fears that the AHL is becoming a New England-y league. And I think our Barons have a real shot to make that happen. But first, the race flags.

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“No More Call-Ups”, Calder Cup Prep Begins

Houston vs. Oklahoma City Barons 2-22-13
Let’s go. Photo by Rob Ferguson.

At last night’s Oklahoma City Barons weekly radio show, there was an excited glow about the next couple of weeks, but mainly for the opening series of the OKC vs Charlotte first rounder taking place this weekend. The best of five seemingly favors the team that is seeded higher (or is it lower), and in this case the Barons at #5 will start at home for back-to-back games over the #4 Checkers who’ll get the final three at home. OKC, out of the gate, will get two straight days of bonus hockey in the city. That’s huge for promotions, ticket sales, and overall hockey activity.

But before we get there (series preview, west predictions, etc. etc. is forthcoming), a bit of news from Edmonton that has huge implications on the Barons as they prep for the first round of the Calder Cup.

Courtesy of the Edmonton Oilers twitter feed, no OKC Barons will be recalled to be used in the final three games of the Oilers season. Via twitter:

Prepare for half the roster to pull a groin, thus making a call-up necessary. Watch, it’ll happen.

The “no call-ups” statement is good. Yet this also means that Anton Lander and Teemu Hartikainen will stay put with the big club likely until the NHL season wraps up on April 27th, the day the Barons will head to Charlotte for Game #3 of the quarterfinals. It’s hard to argue a swap of two from the farm for two in Edmonton simply because the two in Edmonton are the two that belong there. And thus Nelson and his staff will focus on the current roster “as is”, and look forward to bringing back Lander and Hartikainen to only make the team even better.