With the Christmas break looming, the Oklahoma City Barons only had the second game of a two-game set against the Charlotte Checkers to play before a week-long break. The last four games, the Barons have played to a 3-2 decision with the Barons going 2-1-0-1 in that four game stretch. Josh Green's suspension ended after the game on Sunday, but he was kept out of this game as well as he was feeling under the weather. Kirill Tulupov would return to the line-up after being a healthy scratch in the last game. Teemu Hartikainen, Philippe Cornet, Linus Omark, and Andrew Lord are still on the injured list, and Kevin Montgomery and Ryan Lowery were the healthy scratches.
Coach Todd Nelson also shook up the the line-up a bit. With Magnus Paajarvi filling in the injured Philippe Cornet's spot on the top line, Nelson moved Mark Arcobello from the center spot and replaced him with Chris VandeVelde. The defensive pairings would also get a bit of a new look with Bryan Helmer and Taylor Chorney getting split up. David LeNeveu would start in goal again against Mike Murphy and Olivier Roy would stay on the bench, still looking for his first American Hockey League start.
It was a fast start on Tuesday, something that has seemed to happen a lot this season, either for or against the Barons. The Checkers' Zac Dalpe scored 2:05 into the game, scoring his first goal since November 30th. Dalpe's shot was disallowed early in the overtime period in Sunday's game after it rang off two posts, but didn't hit net. At 10:37, Triston Grant was tagged for a tripping penalty and the Barons scored their fourth shorthanded goal of the season. This time, it came from the stick of Ryan O`Marra for his first shorty of the season to tie it at 1-1 with an assist from Hunter Tremblay, who has scored the Barons other three this season.
Forty-eight seconds later, Grant made up for his penalty and gave the Barons a 2-1 lead with assists from Taylor Chorney and Tulupov. Charlotte answered back fifty-six seconds later in the form of a penalty shot from Jon Matsumoto to tie it back up at the 14:00 mark. Hunter Tremblay capped off the first period scoring ninety-one seconds after that with assists from O`Marra and Colten Teubert to send the teams to the locker rooms with the Barons leading 3-2. The scoring was much more sparse for the rest of the game. The Barons committed three penalties in the 2nd, compared to the Checkers one, and Jon Matsumoto scored his second of the game during Teubert's boarding penalty to tie the game at 3-3 midway through the period. The 3rd period was completely quiet with no penalties called or goals scored and the Barons headed to their third straight overtime game.
The Barons wouldn't let this one go to a shootout however as only twenty-eight seconds into the OT period, Gilbert Brule stole a pass in the Checkers zone and passed it cross-ice to Mark Arcobello who made it count giving the Barons the 4-3 win as they headed into their Christmas break.
First place in the league as it entered the break, the Barons are 13-5-0-2 in one-goal games, 11-0-0-0 when leading after one period, and 13-0-0-0 when leading after two.
The Barons head into a busy week to close out 2011, welcoming in the Rochester Americans for the first time to the Cox Center on Tuesday and Wednesday night. Thursday morning, the Barons will hold an outdoor practice at the downtown Oklahoma City rink. New Year's Eve, the San Antonio Rampage return to OKC, and the Barons close out the week playing in Houston.
Magnus Paajarvi - Chris VandeVelde - Ryan Keller
Gilbert Brule - Mark Arcobello - Tyler Pitlick
Hunter Tremblay - Ryan O`Marra - Curtis Hamilton
Triston Grant - Tanner House - Antti Tyrvainen
Dylan Yeo - Bryan Helmer
Taylor Chorney - Kirill Tulupov
Colten Teubert - Alex Plante
★★★ - Gilbert Brule
★★ - Hunter Tremblay
★ - Ryan O`Marra