OKC First To 74 In West, Split Wins With San Antonio

Photo by Steven Christy

The San Antonio Rampage, a formidable adversary, have had a decent head-to-head season against the Oklahoma City Barons. Owning them at home and on the road, the Rampage are needing standing points to keep fellow West Division club, the Texas Stars, from overtaking them in the playoff standings. In addition to Texas, Hamilton and Milwaukee are making plays to topple the Rampage in the coming weeks, so San Antonio looks to strike now, and against a team they know they can beat.

A bit of a shuffle has occurred with the Rampage starting roster, but they own a system of highly-pressurized and pesky offense, and thus have kept themselves composed through call-ups. Likewise they are strong in the net, and when this team gets a full head of steam you better be prepared.

The Oklahoma City Barons would split the weekend games against the Rampage at home in the Cox Center. This has become a typical thing that OKC does – that is trade victories and look vastly different in both games.

The Barons number one goaltender, Laurent Brossoit, would allow a goal in the first ninety seconds of the opening period of the first game. It felt raw until Brad Hunt delivered a whale of a shot to tie the game three minutes later. Two early power play attempts by both squads proved fortuitous more than potent, and we would end the first period with a one goal-a-piece tie.

The second period gave us one goal by the Rampage, and they appeared to have the bulk of the mojo in the second frame. The Barons would have a couple of bad penalties fall their way, but were able to kill penalties quickly.

With only a solitary goal scored in the second period, the Barons would again allow an early period goal, and this one would hurt the most. In the opening minute of the third period, Brossoit again struggled to stop a Shane O’Brien goal (he would have a heckuva night), and the Barons would now have to dig themselves out of a two-goal deficit. They worked hard, and it paid off when Bogdan Yakimov brought his team within one on the only power play goal by either team on the evening. A full fifteen minutes later the Barons were forced to pull the goaltender, but were unable to capitalize. The Rampage would score an empty netter, and OKC would lose game number one by a score of 4-2.

The second game forced OKC to combat the sluggish start that happened the night before with a little wizardry. The Barons scored three straight goals in the second period with another in the third period to put the cherry on top of this delicious sundae.

The Barons won a whale of a game against a frustrated and tired San Antonio team. Laurent Brossoit posted his second shutout of the season en route to a 4-0 demonstrative victory for OKC.

Oklahoma City Barons Lineup (both nights the same):

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

Davidson-Hunt
Simpson-Musil
Craig-Gernat

Brossoit

Scratches: Steve Pinizzotto, Kale Kessy & Kellan Lain (injured); Chase Schaber (healthy)

Oklahoma City (Again) Beats A Team In OT, Texas Farewell

Photo by Steven Christy

The Oklahoma City Barons hosted the Texas Stars for what certainly is the last regular season match-up between the two, but it quite honestly might be the last time the two teams meet EVER. With Oklahoma City exiting the AHL 14-15 season, the farewell tour begins, and it begins against a familiar opponent.

The Texas Stars came to the Cox Center climbing the charts. Looking incredibly sturdy over the last ten, and gaining points in the West, they would give the Barons a good run for their money on a chilly Tuesday evening in Bricktown.

“We are going to play our game regardless of the opponent,” said Gerry Fleming earlier this week. “We know what we can do, we will stick to the plan.” They did do just that, but Texas is a solid opponent with their stock on the rise.

Texas would score the games first two goals including one from Eric Faille in the first :99 of the game, and another by Julius Honka in the second period. Some early power play time was the downfall for OKC, whom were unable to convert with a man advantage until late in the game when they needed it the most.

Brandon Davidson and Jason Williams would score goals in the late minutes of the second and third periods to finally nudge the game towards a tie. Defensively the Stars remained sound, but the pressurized OKC offense gave Jussi Rynnas just enough of a workout to solve his glove and stick sides.

On the other side of the ice, Laurent Brossoit let in two goals in 29 minutes of play, and then was splendid for the back half stopping 22 shots.

When the crunchtime goal was scored late by Jason Williams, after a Meech penalty for interference, the Barons would head towards sealing up their 13th victory of the season – an AHL record.

It took time at 4 on 4 then 3 on 3 for Curtis Hamilton and Andrew Miller to pop the cork on some pesky offense. Miller scores the goal, but Curtis Hamilton had a dandy of a shift to make things happen. The Oklahoma City Barons would defeat the Texas Stars, 3-2 in OT, in what might have been the last meeting between the teams separated by a nasty river called the Red.

Oklahoma City Barons Lineup:

C. Hamilton-Williams-Ford
Schaber-Yakimov-Winquist
Moroz-Khaira-Ewanyk
K.Jones-C.Jones-Miller

Hunt-Davidson
Simpson-Musil
Craig-Gernat

Brossoit

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

The Barons Split The Weekend, Fragility Apparent

The Oklahoma City Barons of a week ago were leading the league in standing points, and seemed to be poised to ride that pony through most of February and in to March. They were tough, competitive nightly, and resilient from behind – basically the stuff of AHL greatness. But recent games have proven that there are a few cracks in the facade.

The team split a pair of home games with the Adirondack Flames over the weekend (Friday and Saturday) and likely should have lost both.

Game one, Friday evening, was a back and forth affair that wielded a soggy 1/7 on the PP for the Barons, but also gave us a fantastic Bogdan Yakimov overtime goal to seal the 4-3 victory. The lineup is rather, well, deflated at best with so many “normal” Barons in the NHL aiding the IR-riddled Edmonton Oilers. The holes are apparent, and nothing short of expected this time of year. For your consideration:

C. Hamilton-Williams-Ford
Winquist-Yakimov-Miller
Moroz-Khaira-Ewanyk
K. Jones-C. Jones-Schaber

Hunt-Davidson
Simpson-Musil
Craig-Gernat

Brossoit

Second line left winger, Josh Winquist, was an ECHLer to start the season. Keep that in mind. Jason Williams and Matt Ford are AHL contracted players. Curtis Hamilton and Bogdan Yakimov are the only two players drafted by the Oilers playing in the top six. Yakimov clearly the better prospect at this point. That is sort of bothersome. Yet the team is getting scoring from all four lines. This, no doubt, is a credit to coaching and goaltending. Brossoit is starting to head the right way, but needs to play consistently. But don’t sleep on this Barons defense, which has enough goodness hanging around to keep them relevant through the regular season.

Nonetheless, the Friday game was a record-breaking 12th OT victory. The team is hard to beat down to the finish, but with the weakening of the forward core things could get scary. Yet the Barons will be well-tested through March and early April, and will gain reinforcements to emphasize the broken portions of the lineup.

Saturday night was a similar affair for OKC albeit with a different, but logical outcome. The Barons again scored a goal on the PP, but 1 out of 6. That lone goal was Curtis Hamilton’s eleventh of the season. Sandwiched by Flames goals via Ferland and Reinhart, against a team that is just over .500 causes my eye to twitch. Then again, this is hockey, minor league hockey, and things happen.

The fragility of the Barons isn’t consistent, but it’s consistently there. Meaning that they are prone to mistakes, hard-wired to falter, and pre-conditioned to need heavier scoring / defending leaders like Lander, Pakarinen, Marincin and Klefbom. With all four likely graduating through the end of the NHL season, it is hard to pin point exactly whom is going to take charge with OKC the next month of the season.

Curtis Hamilton seems the likely candidate, and that feels odd given his struggles both to stay healthy and to consistently beat average play. Perhaps the one stand out in this whole thing becomes Bogdan Yakimov who is a guy that really needs a healthy dose of self motivation to gain traction. He seemingly has plateaued, not in numbers, but in progress. Now’s the time to shine.

Defensively the world revolves around Brossoit. He has to be the best he can be, and quite frankly he’s capable. I’ll say this, he is likely the best goaltending prospect the Oilers have had in six seasons. That’s saying something. And if the team can get good play from Hunt (eek!), Davidson, Simpson and Musil, the team will be fine for the duration of the regular season.

Lotta ballgame left, as they say, and things are starting to cook in the AHL as well as the NHL. Enjoy the ride.

Magnus Paajarvi Beats OKC, Alicia Silverstone In Attendance (Seriously)

During the first and second intermission of the Oklahoma City Barons at Chicago Wolves game, Ryan Kwanten of True Blood fame, emerged from the tunnel wearing goaltender pads (this is now his second trip to the Wolves arena). Flanked by Alicia Silverstone, the two were filming in Illinois for an upcoming independent rom-com called Who Gets The Dog?. This film is probably right in my wheelhouse, but it was the only sweet, kind, or otherwise romantic moment of the game for anyone wearing an OKC sweater.

It was a sluggish game from the get-go for the Barons as they would struggle to take more than fifteen shots in the first forty minutes. Credit the Chicago Wovles, and their suddenly consistent defense and goaltending in this one. The Barons looked flat, frail, and a bit fragile at times. Nothing like the world-beaters we have known them to be of late.

The moral of the story is that Magnus Paajarvi would dagger of the heart of his former team in the closing minutes of the third period. After stopping 34 straight shots, it was the 35th that solved the problem of Laurent Brossoit who played some super pesky netminding. With less than ninety seconds remaining in the game, Magnus Paajarvi whistled in his fifth goal of the AHL season.

The penalties were few (a lone slash), and thus the Barons had no way of taking advantage of having an extra skater. This is probably not how the team envisioned the beginning of their three-in-three through the Midwest. The team travels to Rockford on Valentine’s Day.

Props to the Chicago Sun Times for the rom-com update – http://chicago.suntimes.com/hockey/7/71/368698/wolves-continue-surge-1-0-win-oklahoma-city

Oklahoma City Barons Lineup:

C. Hamilton-Williams-Pinizzotto
Winquist-Yakimov-Miller
Moroz-Khaira-Ewanyk
K. Jones-C. Jones-Schaber

Hunt-Davidson
Oesterle-Musil
Simpson-Gernat

Brossoit

Scratches: Matt Ford (DTD), Kale Kessy & Kellan Lain (IR), Graeme Craig (healthy)

The Weekend Of 66, Barons Lose Then Win

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.

Saturday Lineup:

R. Hamilton-Williams-Pinizzotto
Miller-Yakimov-Ford
C. Hamilton-Khaira-Winquist
Moroz-Ewanyk-K. Jones

Hunt-Davidson
Oesterle-Musil
Simpson-Gernat

Bachman

Scratched – Connor Jones (DTD), Kale Kessy & Kellan Lain

Sunday Lineup:

C. Hamilton-Williams-Pinizzotto
R. Hamilton-Yakimov-Miller
K. Jones-Khaira-Winquist
Moroz-Ewanyk

Hunt-Davidson
Oesterle-Musil
Simpson-Gernat

Scratched – Matt Ford (DTD), Connor Jones (DTD(, Kale Kessy & Kellan Lain

OKC With Erie-tating Weekend, Split The Series

Photo by Steven Christy

Two games. The same opponent. Two wild finishes.

(dat headline, though)

The Oklahoma City Barons have traditionally been a straight forward team. They rely heavily on the play of their goaltenders. Insist on crisp, open-ice passing, and realize they need to be responsible for their own play (good or bad). This has allowed them to be a team prone to make better decisions more, and awful decisions less. They also don’t lose a ton of games playing this way.

Friday and Saturday were anything but Barons-esque.

The weekend set against the visiting Lake Erie Monsters was a wild ride on a wooden rollercoaster that had been doused in kerosene.

Each game would be decided by one goal as the Monsters really pressurized the Barons at every turn. The challenge for Oklahoma City was to mount an attack that didn’t bite their tail-end before the final horn of the game.

In game one, Richard Bachman did something he hasn’t done all season – let in three straight in the first period. Penalties fueled this fiasco as a late period Marincin high-stick gave the Monsters a chance they made good on as time was winnowing down in the first period. Thirteen shots, three goals, and a head hung low was what the Barons walked away with in the first twenty minutes of play. My mouth was agape at The Biz crashing, and burning, but I didn’t give him enough credit down the stretch.

The defense sandwiched the Erie forwards and kept their shot total at twelve for the remainder of regulation. This allowed Bachman to revive himself, and steady the squad when called jpon. Three straight goals from the 13:50 mark of the second period to the 19:05 mark of the third period were enough to put the Barons and Monsters in to OT. The heroics of one, Matt Ford, gave the Barons a late-game equalizer for the ages with Bachman out of the net. Ford, relatively good against the Monsters, proved his value to the team by demonstratively scoring a goal, his thirteenth of the season, in the way he did. To OT we go.

It took a full five minutes of OT, played completely at four on four, for Jordan Oesterle to blast a shot around Monsters tender Calvin Pickard to stamp a firm “W” on the Barons totals for the season.

Game two was another lesson in intestinal fortitude.

A low scoring game, one in which Mitch Moroz scored his first goal of the season, quickly became a situation of whom could play the best “keep away” from the other team. Nursing a one goal lead for much of the game, the Monsters took nearly 43 minutes to score their first goal of the game after scoring three straight in under twenty the night before. The beauty of it all was that Moroz’s first goal of the season almost was the golden goose that gave the Barons the win. Fate had other plans.

As the game appeared to be headed out of OT and in to a shootout, Ben Street gets hauled down by Jordan Oesterle (the savior the night before), and a penalty shot is rewarded at the 7:00 mark of the overtime frame. Street would beat young Laurent Brossoit high over the shoulder, and the Monsters would carry Street off into the sunset with a victory.

Two games. The same opponent. Two wild finishes.

Oklahoma City Barons Lineups:

Saturday
C. Hamilton-Williams-Pinizzotto
Hanson-Yakimov-Pakarinen
K. Jones-C. Jones-Ford
Moroz-Khaira-Ewanyk

Hunt-Davidson
Oesterle-Musil
Marincin-Simpson

Brossoit

Friday
C. Hamilton-Williams-Pinizzotto
Moroz-Yakimov-Pakarinen
K. Jones-C.Jones-Ford
Mele-Khaira-Hanson

Hunt-Davidson
Oesterle-Musil
Marincin-Gernat

Bachman

The Tales Of Charlotte Scoring Early, Barons Split Weekend Games

578A8894

The Oklahoma City Barons played a two-set this week against the Charlotte Checkers in North Carolina prior to the All-Star break. With three (four if you count Lander) Barons on the All-Star roster for the Western Conference, they’d make the trip owning one of the best records in the league. At the other end of the spectrum is the Charlotte Checkers, who’ve had an up and down and up again season through 40+ games.

It would be a lesson in frustration in game one as the Charlotte Checkers would score the games first goal, and the Barons would scratch and claw their way back to victory. In game two, Charlotte would again score early, but OKC couldn’t muster the offensive strength to overcome a two-goal deficit.

The game one goaltending situation would place All-Star Richard Bachman in net against the not-so-awful John Muse. Bachman would be treated to a low shot total (seven in the first, and only four in the second) from Charlotte, and after allowing the games first goal, would be untested until the final moments of regulation.

Chad LaRose scored in the final five minutes of period one, and it felt like Charlotte was going to be hit with the lucky stick. In return, the Barons would score three unanswered in the second period to really seal the deal before the third period arrived.

The second period talking points were less about the goals and more about the Pinizzotto and Moroz fights and roughs and other stuffs. The nasty side of the game, for once, favored the Barons. This led Charlotte to play “catch up” the remainder of the game. A late shot flurry in front of Bachman wasn’t enough, and the Barons would courageously win 3-1.

The second game in two nights for both clubs felt oddly out of place. The Barons would again be playing from behind, but their otherwise stingy penalty kill (one of the best in the league) would allow two man advantage goals in five attempts.

It took the Barons a good 15:00 to find their sea legs, and Laurent Brossoit felt the weight of the sluggish start. He would be fine through the first 20:00 of the game, but two second period goals placed the team in attack mode for the remainder of the game.

A second period goal by Kellen Jones gave life to the Barons before the final 20:00 of the game began, but a carry over tripping penalty allowed Brody Sutter to again give the Checkers a two-goal lead.

Iiro Pakarinen would scored his 17th of the season in the dying minutes of the third period, but credit Charlotte tender, Drew MacIntyre, for playing a pretty good game facing 30+ shots.

Oklahoma City would lose the second game 2-3.

The Barons would lose one of two, and display a bit of nasty behavior in both games. McGinn and perhaps Pinizzotto could be looking at pre-ASG suspensions after this one (assuming the league was paying attention)

Headed in to the All-Star break the Barons are the best team in the league with 61 points.

Thursday Starting Lineup:

C. Hamilton-Williams-Pinizzotto
Miller-Yakimov-Pakarinen
Moroz-Khaira-Ewanyk
K. Jones-C. Jones-Ford

Hunt-Davidson
Oesterle-Musil
Simpson-Marincin

Bachman

Friday Starting Lineup:

C. Hamilton-Williams-Pinizzotto
Miller-Yakimov-Pakarinen
Moroz-Khaira-Ewanyk
K. Jones-C. Jones-Ford

Davidson-Hunt
Oesterle-Simpson
Marincin-Gernat

Brossoit

Three Games In Three Days, Barons Lose Twice

Photo by Steven Christy

Coming off a hot December and an equally as hot early January, the Oklahoma City Barons were forced to battle through a home three-in-three against the familiar Texas Stars and the unfamiliar Rochester Americans. Despite losses being few and far between these days, the Barons would lose twice in the span of 72 hours.

The first two games, against the Texas Stars, come with the knowledge that scouts and media from Edmonton are littered throughout the Cox Center. The Barons would arm themselves with Laurent Brossoit in game one, and Richard Bachman in game two – both netminders being sturdy to start the new year.

Brossoit would give up two even strength goals in the second frame that would be the only scoring on the evening for either club. The 2-0 loss was earmarked by some poor power play gaming by OKC alongside some of the laziest defense we’ve seen in the 14-15 season.

Nearly forty shots taken, some of the unhealthy quality, weren’t enough to beat Jussi Rynnas even once, and the Stars goaltender would earn the shutout victory. The 2-0 Friday night game was completed, and the Barons knew what had to be done in round two on Saturday.

Saturday’s game felt like it was going the way of Friday’s as an early Iiro Pakarinen boarding penalty gave way to a Meech goal in first ten minutes of the game. But the sticks got good for the home team as the Barons rattled off three unanswered goals from the 11:34 mark of the first period until 7:01 of the second. Andrew Miller would catapult himself with a goal and an assist in that time frame, and Richard Bachman would close the windows and lock the doors.

But an early third period short handed goal (the Barons first short-handed given of the season) by Texas gave a little bit of life to the team from the South. With a 3-2 lead, Bogdan Yakimov would score his second goal of the game, and help seal the deal for OKC. In the closing :30 Iiro Pakarinen would put in an empty netter to round out a good night of hockey.

Bachman was tested often by his former team, but it was the defense to offense transition that won out on this evening. The Andrew Miller – Bogdan Yakimov – Iiro Pakarinen line would be responsible for four out of the five goals, and in front of Edmonton brass – that’s great news.

Sunday’s game was a completely different beast of burden.

The Rochester Americans, on a southern swing, would face-off against Laurent Brossoit who has been less-than-sturdy in the last couple of starts. At the other end was the young Russian goaltender, Andrey Makarov, who is still in the midst of his first ELC.

To attempt to sum up this game would be an absolute travesty. I couldn’t do it justice, really. It was a tire fire for three straight periods. Here are your goals and penalties via the AHL website:

As you can see, the game was a goal-scoring frenzy, a defensive slap in the face, and nightmare-ish sixty minutes for goaltenders. These types of games happen every once in a while, usually not more than once to the same team in the same year, but this one is an odd duck. A rarely seen opponent can do that to you, and it can also make you want to forget the whole thing happened in the first place.

Needless to say, regulation wasn’t enough to put the nail in the coffin, and thus we went to OT and eventually a SO. Here are those results:

The Barons were completely out of skill and most importantly gas. When the dust settled the Americans won 8-7. The Barons would have six different goal scorers, Pakarinen with two, and thirteen players with at least a single point. WOW.

A healthy and spirited crowd witnessed a rare thing on Sunday, but in terms of meaningfulness – this one is a wash.

In summation, it was a wild up and down weekend for the Barons (which happens when Oilers media and persona are in town). Thursday and Friday the Barons travel to Charlotte then will return home for a two-set against Lake Erie. Now is the time to scrape together as many wins as possible, and for now the Barons have a tiny blemish in their armor. They will fix it, I know they will.

Barons Lose 5-2 To Texas, Streak Ends

Photo by Steven Christy. Is that man scared?

The Oklahoma City Barons, clinging to a seven game win streak, returned home to face the sleeping giant called the Texas Stars. The eight game win streak that began around Thanksgiving and extended into the first week of December was a franchise record. It also saw the Barons take four straight in OT sandwiched by two regulation wins prior and three later. They were a team simply getting the job done. The current streak was eerily similar. Three OT victories in that seven game stretch. Again, this team knows how to finish. And on Tuesday night in Bricktown the team would do a complete 180, and look like mere mortals against their rival to the South, the Stars.

Things were on the up as Kellen Jones received a pass from brother Connor in the first six minutes of the game to give wings to the Barons once more. But Texas would grind the gears, and rattle off two goals before the first period would end. Laurent Brossoit, the golden goose at the moment, would allow those two goals in only eleven shots. No penalties in the first period for either club, and we would head towards another dominate period for the Stars.

In the second period Texas would pick up right where they left off. A two minute slash would give the Stars a power play early on in the second forty, but it would be their lively play at even strength that would again sting OKC. Hulak and Root scored back-to-back goals just over a minute apart to put the Barons in a three-goal hole halfway through the period. A spirited Travis Ewanyk vs. Mike Dalhuisen fight gave little encouragement to the Barons, whom continued to be a bit lazy with the puck. The second twenty minutes ended with the Stars on top, 4-1.

An early third period goal by Steve Pinizzotto felt like a spark, as did his constant yip-yappy ways, but Derek Hulak would score his second goal of the evening to thwart any type of comeback.

The Barons’ seven game win streak would come to an end, and Laurent Brossoit would be handed an ultra rare loss.

Tonight’s OKC Barons Lineup:

Winquist-Williams-Ford
Miller-Yakimov-Pakarinen
C. Hamilton-Khaira-Pinizzotto
K. Jones-C. Jones-Ewanyk

Simpson-Davidson
Oesterle-Musil
Marincin-Hunt

Brossoit

Scratches: Kessy, Lain (injured), Hamilton, Moroz, Gernat (healthy)

The Barons pack it in and ship it out for a three-in-three trip to Adirondack, Rochester and Hamilton beginning January 9. This will be a huge test for the Barons, whom will find themselves in unfamiliar terriroty.

Barons Win Back-To-Back In OT, Welcome To The Show

Photo by Steven Christy

The Oklahoma City Barons played back-to-back games this weekend. The games were separated by only 22 hours and over 450 miles. The trip to San Antonio for a post-Christmas tilt with the Rampage was seen through the filter of the impending trip back north to face the Charlotte Checkers on home ice the following day. But like the best teams do, the Barons were prepared for both games, and while they played “extra hockey” both nights, each win was exceptional. Welcome to the (young gun) show.

We will dive in to each game in just a bit, but before we do that let me share with you the goodness that is the Oklahoma City Barons in its current form. Having dipped very little with Todd Nelson exiting and Gerry Fleming taking over, the Barons actually look more fine-tuned than they did a month ago. The system has changed very little, and neither has the nightly lineup. In fact, the Barons have been one of the five best teams in the league over the last ten games (7-3-0-0). The great news is detailed in this info graphic provided by the AHL:

ahlovertime141229

Nearly twice as many goals in overtime as any team in the league. This is big news for the Barons who began October struggling to score late in games. Eleven games have been decided in OT this season, and they have won nine straight overtime games stretching back to October 25th. That’s just a crazy number. It is also a record.

The Barons can win when they have the lead, and they can win when they are behind. The remarkable nature of this phenomena is so un-Oilers-like that it gives me heart palpitations. Are the Barons really this good? Really this clutch?

Again, welcome to the (young gun) show.

Saturday night the Oklahoma City Barons wouldn’t score a goal until the 45th minute of the game. Up until that point, Laurent Brossoit had struck gold only allowing a single goal by way of the San Antonio Rampage whom are highly skilled, and highly prone to pressure the puck. A rough and tough game, in typical West Div fashion, gave way to some good defense. It was Connor Jones that would score for OKC (assisted by brother Kellen) to knot the game at one. Connor’s first AHL goal couldn’t have come at a better time. With the game ending with a healthy scrap, and some rough business, the game would head to OT. Nearing the 6:00 mark of the OT frame, while in a 3-on-3 situation, Brandon Davidson would laser the game winner from a healthy distance at the top of the key. The Barons would win, and quickly jump a bus to head back to OKC for a Sunday afternoon start.

The Charlotte Checkers are struggling to gain momentum leading up to 2015. That doesn’t mean they aren’t a healthy opponent. Sunday night would prove just that. Like the night before, the Barons opponent would score the games first goal in the second period. OKC would score in the third period to tie it up, and thus sending it to OT. Again, Brossoit would make multiple “heckuva” saves to keep his team alive late in the game. About sixty shots in two games, and only two goals allowed – I approve. Unlike the game prior, the Barons would score at 4 on 4 prior to moving to 3 on 3. Andrew Miller, his ninth of the season, would put his team past a good opponent, one they’d see again on New Year’s Eve. The PK was strong through the entire weeken. The PP was scoreless. But in all, the team played good 5 on 5 hockey, and ultimately fantastic late game hockey.

Part good luck, part good coaching, the Barons have turned in to one “can’t quite team”. They are overcoming obstacles much larger than themselves, and that is how the best teams historically win seasons.