The long off-week for the Barons was a welcome respite despite losing a few shallow standing points to other teams in the AHL Western Division that had several games in hand. Blessed by a long home stand, the team practiced quite regularly and diligently at the Blazers Ice Center on the South side of Oklahoma City. As the prep work began for two weekend games, fans received the news of the call ups for Shawn Belle and Jean-Francois Jacques after weeks of speculating as to who'd be the first Baron to be called upon. A Ladislav Smid injury here, and Nikolai Khabibulin inury there, and suddenly Martin Gerber gets a crack at the Oilers lineup. In the span of two days the speculation had ended, and three Barons were placed with the big club. Filling their spots on the Barons roster were a couple of familiar faces as well as an unknown of sorts. Attempting to replace Shawn Belle's spot on defense was the lanky Jordan Bendfeld of the Stockton Thunder. Bryan Pitton too was brought in from Stockton to back up Jeff Deslauriers who now would get some much needed time on the ice to further progress his game. The big question mark was a kid named Joey Ryan who was signed to a PTO via the Bakersfield Condors where he'd posted two goals and four assists in twelve games.
When all the transactions were complete, the Barons focused on their two weekend opponents the Texas Stars (Dallas Stars) and the Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators). The Stars are a team whom have become very familiar with call ups to the Dallas team as they've had nearly 9 player transactions in this young AHL season. At Center, Travis Morin is always entertaining to watch. On his left is Francis Wathier who lacks defensive prowess, but can be hefty when driving to the net. The downside to this year's Stars continues to be their offensive inadequacy which is best pointed out in the fact that their leading scoring, Morin, comes in at number 48 on leading scorers in the AHL. Ouch. The last time the Stars and Barons met (November 5th) it was a one-sided game indeed as Oklahoma City demoralized them 6-1. Since that time, the Stars have gone 2-1-0 with recent wins against divisional opponents the Chicago Wolves (Atlanta Thrashers). The Milwaukee Admirals are a new face to the Cox Center. Donning what is probably the best looking sweater in minor league hockey, the Admirals began the week in front of the Barons in the West Division led by another Swedish left winger named Linus, but bearing the last name Klasen. Linus Klasen indeed resembles Linus Omark in his play, and unpredictable nature. Linus Klasen has already marked nine goals and six assists on the season. His best efforts come while on the powerplay with six of those nine goals being with a man advantage. Mark Dekanich is a consistent goaltender for Milwaukee and is currently ranked third in GAA and second in save percentage.
As the Barons pursued both the Stars and Admirals this weekend, the team took on a slightly different facade. However, the game plan went unchanged, and the Barons didn't miss a beat.
Shoot (Yourself In The Foot) Out
On a night that honored local military and first responders (the team also wore special red, white, & blue jerseys) it took only two regulation goals, one by each team, to get the Stars and Barons into overtime. A stellar goaltending performance at both ends of the ice by Richard Bachman and Jeff Deslauriers where each tender saw roughly 35 shots would prove to be the difference in the end. Scoring in the first period was Travis Morin on the powerplay off a Dan Spang pass that beat Deslauriers (you guessed it) glove-side. The remainder of the first period was a tough defensive battle, and both Bachman and Deslauriers refused to let one in. As the second period began, Travis Morin would be called for tripping and Teemu Hartikainen and Linus Omark teamed up for what would be Hartikainen's sixth goal of the year. Assisted in that fray was newcomer Joey Ryan who played decently in his first game as a Baron. The second and third periods would be a continued back and forth defensive battle, but it wasn't without some "ooh" and "ahh" moments from Deslauriers who stopped all 17 shots he faced in the third period alone. The game resumed in overtime with the same results, thus the Barons and Stars entered the shootout. The five Oklahoma City shooters were Alexandre Giroux, Linus Omark, Teemu Hartikainen, Brad Moran, and Jeff Petry. Of those five, only Hartikainen's goal succeeded. Tomas Vincour and Aaron Gagnon eventually won the shootout for the Stars. The Barons would settle for a point despite a sensational game by their goalie.
Swab the Deck With 'Em
The Barons looked strong in this 5-2 victory that handed the Admirals their second loss in a row, as well as the most goals they had allowed all season. The first period was fast and furious as the scoring came quickly and from the usual suspects. In the first eight minutes of the game, Colin McDonald deflected an Alexandre Giroux shot into the net that the Admirals Jeremy Smith never saw coming. Smith, seeing only his second start of the season, was doomed from the beginning. Almost six minutes later, captain Ben Ondrus tipped in a rifle-like shot from Matt Marquardt putting the Barons up 2-0 early. Ondrus wasn't finished as he'd score another deflected goal this time from Alex Plante who had been quiet prior to tonight's game. Just when it appeared the Admirals were cooked, Linus Klassen scored after the puck pin-balled around in front of Deslauriers. The second period went quiet even on the wings of three Barons power play opportunities and two for the Admirals. However, the third period resembled the first as the Barons would score twice in nearly eight minutes time. Jeff Petry notched his third goal of the season, this one short-handed. Making it 4-1 in favor of the Barons. Teemu Hartikainen scored his seventh of the season on a power play goal with some help from Liam Reddox's strong drive to the net. At 5-1 the game began to get a little chippy as Jordan Bendfeld and Jake Taylor squared off in game-ending fisticuffs (videos below). Finally scoring again was Milwaukee defenseman Aaron Johnson at the 19:14 mark of period three. The Barons 5-2 victory over the Admirals couldn't have come at a better time and in a better fashion as they needed a solid regulation win to hurdle the Houston Aeros in the standings. The Barons and Admirals meet again in two days. Stay tuned for a good one.
Baby Oilers Video
Check out these great videos from the week of Barons hockey:
(Videos courtesy of OKCHockey.com)
November 23rd - Milwaukee at Oklahoma City
November 26th - Oklahoma City at Lake Eerie
November 27th - Oklahoma City at Lake Eerie
November 30th - Oklahoma City at Texas