Grant-House-Hamilton was the hardest working line on Saturday. Photo copyright Kathleen Rodgers. All Rights Reserved
Coming off of their first two-game regulation losing streak, the Oklahoma City Barons looked to rebound in Rockford as they took on the IceHogs for the first time this season. Yann Danis would get the call in goal versus Alexander Salak. It wouldn't take too long for the IceHogs to get the first goal, during Linus Omark's serving for an interference penalty, as Peter LeBlanc would score his first goal of the season at 8:06.
Omark would draw a tripping penalty three minutes later, and would then assist on Teemu Hartikainen's sixth goal of the season during the ensuing power play to tie the score up at 1-1. A small scrum would ensue at the end of the period, and the Barons and IceHogs would head to the locker room with shots tied at 12 apiece.
The Barons would come out of the intermission with guns blazing and firing on all cylinders. Continuing the scrum from the end of the 1st, Bryan Helmer and Jeremy Morin would drop the gloves just 17 seconds into the period, and the Barons would gain a power play from Morin's extra slashing minor. The IceHogs would kill the penalty but seconds later, Hartikainen would score his second goal of the night, making it 2-1 OKC. Omark would take a spill after taking the puck into the Rockford zone, and would skate to the bench and be out for the remainder of the game.
At the midway point of the period, the Barons would get a power play and Gilbert Brule would get in on the scoring, taking a pass from Hartikainen and putting it past Salak to make it 3-1. Three minutes later, the Philippe Cornet would score his 11th goal of the season, and make it 4-1. The period would end with that score, with both teams taking 20 shots through the game.
Alexander Salak would be replaced for the 3rd period by Alec Richards, and the Barons would have trouble in the period. Brandon Segal would quickly make it 4-2 at the 3:12 mark, and a minute later LeBlanc would score his second of the night to cut the Barons lead to 4-3. After a Barons timeout, they would hold off the IceHogs until the 11:47 mark as Brandon Pirri would tie the score off of a goal-mouth scramble. The Barons would fight back and 58 seconds later, Ryan Keller would give the Barons the lead back. The IceHogs would get one final chance, with Brett McLean getting a penalty shot after being tripped up by Cornet on a breakaway. It would end up being a non-factor, as McLean shot wide, and the Barons would win with the final score of 5-4.
The Barons would return home on Thursday, and some big changes would await them on Friday. After injuries in Edmonton, Taylor Chorney and Colten Teubert would be called up to the Oilers to fill in the blueline, and Dan Ringwald would be called up from Stockton. Linus Omark would also be diagnosed with a broken ankle, and he will be out for six weeks.
The second edition of the Battle of AHL-berta would commence that night, as the Abbotsford Heat made their first trip to OKC this season. With David LeNeveu in net against Leland Irving, the Barons would start out strong, and Tyler Pitlick would score his third goal of the season just 2:37 into the game. Five minutes later, the Barons would make it a quick 2-0, with Cornet scoring his 12th goal of the season. Things would start to get chippy after that, and Guillaume Desbians would take a roughing penalty at the same time as a Barons too many men penalty. About four minutes later, Lance Bouma would bump Kirill Tulupov late, and they would drop the gloves, with Tulupov getting the better of Bouma. Tulupov however, wouldn't have his fight strap tied down and he would be ejected from the game. The teams would head to the locker rooms and the Barons leading 2-0 after one.
Not long into the 2nd period, Triston Grant would take a roughing double minor. The Barons would kill it off, and halfway into the period, Tanner House would score his first goal of the season from Grant behind the net. At the 17:20 mark, Jon Rheault would put the Heat on the board. Ryan Lowery would take a boarding penalty late in the period, and the 2nd period would end with the Barons leading 3-1. It wouldn't be a very eventful 3rd period, but Ryan Keller would put the game away at the 5:57 mark on an unassisted goal, and the Barons would win their second in a row and third against the Heat by a score of 4-1.
The next night would be round two of the set, and Yann Danis would be in net for the Barons against Irving again for the Heat. It would be a fast-paced and hard-hitting 1st period, but neither team would light the lamp in the first 20 minutes. 6:04 into the period, Grant would commit a boarding penalty and the Heat would take advantage. At 7:39, Greg Nemisz would make it 1-0 and 1:19 later, Clay Wilson would make it 2-0 Abbotsford. It would be the Barons turn to get frustrated, and Triston Grant would take a roughing penalty. It would be a good result for the Barons however, as Ryan O`Marra would hit Hunter Tremblay with a breakaway pass, and he would cut the lead to 2-1. As the period wound down, The Barons would take the puck into the Heat zone on a rush, and Brule would take the initial shot with Chris VandeVelde putting the puck away for his second goal of the season. The period would end with the teams tied at 2-2.
The Barons would look sluggish in the 3rd, and it wouldn't go well for them. 3:25 in, Desbians would get his first of the season to put the Heat up 3-2 and it would stay that way for the majority of the period. The Barons would get some chances late, but wouldn't be able to hit the twine. The Barons would pull Danis for the extra attacker, but Rheault would put the game away for the Heat with the empty netter goal, and the Barons would fall 4-2. The line of Grant, House, and Curtis Hamilton was the hardest working line all night, and were double-shifted for much of the 3rd.
This weekend, the Barons head to back to the Great Lakes to take on the Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday and Sunday, and Rockford again on Saturday. With six healthy defensemen on both the Oilers and Barons rosters, it'll be interesting to see if there are any roster changes that happen before then.
★★★ - Triston Grant
★★ - David LeNeveu
★ - Teemu Hartikainen