Photo copyright Kathleen Rodgers, All Rights Reserved
Returning home from their road trip to Ohio and Canada that saw the Oklahoma City Barons win against Lake Erie, get shut out for only the second time this season against Toronto, and lose to Hamilton the team had five days off before they began a three-in-three weekend against the Rockford IceHogs while looking ahead to a two-game set against division-rival Abbotsford.
Friday night against Rockford, the Barons would take on a rare look at home as they wore their blue road jerseys. With the Barons success on the road this season, 14-5-0-1, I was hoping wearing the road jerseys would translate into some more success. Unfortunately it didn’t turn out quite that well. The Barons did start out well, however, and despite only putting up two official shots in the 1st period, the Barons outplayed Rockford for the most part. At 14:22, Mark Arcobello received a great cross-ice pass from Hunter Tremblay and made it a 1-0 game by going top shelf against Carter Hutton. CHL Wichita Thunder call-up Andrew Martens earned the second assist on the goal, and earned his first Barons point. The Barons garnered more shots in the 2nd period, and both teams traded penalties but the period ended without a goal and the game headed to the 3rd period with the Barons leading 1-0.
The Barons committed three straight penalties to start the period, including a 3-on-5 situation for 1:30, but the Barons killed them all to keep it 1-0. Philippe Cornet missed a chance late in the period on a 2-on-1 and Rockford skated it back up the ice and a different Philippe, Philippe Paradis put the puck past Danis to tie the game up at 1-1. That sent the game to overtime, and the IceHogs took advantage of it as Brian Fahey sent a shot from the point towards Danis and Ben Smith deflected it by to give Rockford the 2-1 win in OT.
Returning to the ice on Saturday night, the Barons got set to take on the Abbotsford Heat for a weekend set. The Barons held a two point lead in the standing against the Heat going into the game. It was slow going for the Barons in this one and it showed on the power play. Midway through the 1st, Antti Tyrvainen and Jordan Henry squared off with Tyrvainen landing a couple more punches. Three and a half minutes later Jon Rheault committed a boarding penalty. With a chance to tie it up, the Barons had a hard time getting the puck on net, and for the most part, even keeping the puck in Abbotsford’s zone. The Barons had two PP chances in the first but were unable to convert on both. Abbotsford however converted on even strength and a shot by Justin Dowling from the high slot was screened and made it past Danis to make it 1-0 Abbotsford.
The 2nd period would be a bit better for the Barons. At 13:08, ECHL Bakersfield Condors call-up Dylan Yeo blasted a point shot by Danny Taylor to tie the game up at 1-1 with Teemu Hartikainen and Lennart Petrell getting the assists. Carter Bancks committed an interference penalty seconds later, but again the Barons were unable to convert on the power play and that would keep the score 1-1 at intermission. Abbotsford started the 3rd period off with a bad change and were whistled for too many men, but again the Barons wouldn’t convert. Minutes later at the 7:33 mark, Jon Rheault skated the puck in with Tanner House’s loose stick sliding in front of him, and he shot it past Danis to make it a 2-1 Abbotsford game. Getting one more chance with 2:26 left in the game, the Barons were once again unable to convert the power play chance and the Heat took this one 2-1.
With four straight losses, the Barons needed to right the ship, and fast. David LeNeveu got the start in this one against Danny Taylor. The 1st period went by scoreless but not before a scrap between Cameron Abney and Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond. A decent tilt, but PL3 had a few more punches land and had the takedown. The power play woes continued for the Barons as well, unable to convert two separate penalties by Joe Piskula. In the 2nd period, the Barons finally scored on special teams, but not on the power play. A holding penalty by Milan Kytnar put the Barons on their first penalty kill against the Heat this weekend, and Chris VandeVelde took a pass from Hunter Tremblay, skated it across ice and shot it past Taylor to make it a 1-0 Barons lead. 1:40 after, Kytnar’s penalty expired just as the Barons regained possession of the puck and Tremblay fed Kytnar way ahead of the Heat’s defense. All alone against Taylor, Kytnar’s first shot was saved, but he grabbed the rebound and put it past for his first Barons goal this season to make it 2-0 Barons.
Frustrated, the Heat started to rough things up. At the 13:33 mark, Tremblay – who was celebrating his birthday that day – and Russ Sinkewich dropped the gloves with Tremblay getting the better of the fight. 4:20 later, the Heat picked up a giveaway by the Barons and skated it in to Kris Kolanos who got the goal. Tyrvainen lost his cool after that one and snapped his stick against the Barons goal while the refs weren’t looking. The 2-1 score didn’t last long though as Lennart Petrell got the puck at the point and blasted it towards the net and past Taylor to make it 3-1 Barons after forty minutes. As the teams skated towards the locker rooms, players were chattering and gathering, with a few shoves thrown. No fights and no penalties were handed out. The 3rd period was a bit tamer than that, but not much. At 14:48, Kevin Montgomery and Rheault were tangled up in the Barons defensive end far behind the play. When the whistle finally blew, VandeVelde and Henry started to push and shove. All four players were given minors on the play. The Barons got one last chance on the power play, but again were unable to convert. They were able to hold off the Heat in the final minutes though, and they snapped the four-game skid winning 3-1 and regaining their lead of the Western Division.
So to answer the title, it equals three out of a possible six points. Could have been worse, but it really should have been better. Sitting in first, the Barons have both the Heat and Houston Aeros breathing down their necks only two points out. The Barons have another three-in-three this week, but this time on the road. Thursday and Friday, the Barons head to Rochester, New York for the first time in franchise history to take on the Americans. The Barons conclude the trip in Cleveland, Ohio to take on the Lake Erie Monsters for the second time this month.
---Lennart Petrell seemed a bit shaky at the start of the weekend, but he had noticeable improvement by Sunday as he gets used to the teammates and system. Definitely going to be a key player later on.
---Taylor Chorney had a great game Sunday as he wore the A while both Josh Green and Ryan O`Marra are in Edmonton. Created chances, had a few takeaways, great D. If he played like that more often, he'd probably be with the big club right now.
---Tyler Pitlick was injured in Friday's game and held out for Saturday and Sunday. Hopefully it won't be too serious as Friday was one of his best games he played.
---Here's the video of Kirill Tulupov flipping the bird at a Texas Stars player while on the jumbotron in Austin back in December. Tulupov was assessed a ten minute misconduct and was then given a two-game suspension by the league for it.