Last Monday, the Oklahoma City Barons had just completed a three-in-three, losing to Rockford in overtime and then splitting a two-game set with division rival Abbotsford. This past weekend, the Barons had another three-in-three on the schedule, this time all on the road as the team head to Rochester, New York for the first time in franchise history and ended in Cleveland, Ohio. The last time around that the Barons faced the Americans, Rochester swept the Barons in the two-game set, taking both games in extra time. With Abbotsford and Houston hot on their tails, the Barons needed some points in a big way on the road trip.
Entering the trip, the Barons were 14-5-0-1 on the road, and they looked to keep that trend going with Yann Danis in net against the Americans' David Leggio. Just like the last two games against Rochester, the Americans opened the scoring first as Paul Szczechura scored his fifth of the season and his third against the Barons at the 7:53 mark. It didn't take long for the Barons to answer back as Hunter Tremblay evened the score at 1-1 just 2:05 later, getting the assist from Mark Arcobello. That wasn't all we heard from Arcobello that night however as he scored nine minutes later at the 18:41 mark to give the Barons the 2-1 lead heading into the intermission with Tremblay and Chris VandeVelde getting the assists.
Never seeing a two-goal lead in the first set between the two teams, the Barons changed it in this one. Szczechura took a hooking penalty at 1:37, allowing Mark Arcobello to score his second of the night on the power play with assists by Lennart Petrell and Teemu Hartikainen. Less than three minutes later the Barons struck again, this time from the stick of Philippe Cornet who scored his 18th goal of the season from assists by Ryan Keller and Arcobello - his fourth point of the night. As the period drew to a close, the Barons got one more goal from Hartikainen, his ninth of the season with an assist by Tanner House. Eleven seconds later Rochester scored again to cut the lead to 5-2 from Travis Turnbull heading into the second intermission. The 5-2 score was all the Barons needed though, and that would be the final after a scoreless 3rd period.
With Arcobello's four-point game and Cornet scoring the goal, they both moved into a tie for fifth on the Barons all-time scoring list, while Hartikainen took sole possession of third place, passing Colin McDonald.
Friday night, the Barons and Americans played for the final time this regular season. Yann Danis would be in net again while Drew MacIntyre took over the netminding duties for Rochester in this one. Things got heated early and only 55 seconds in, Taylor Chorney and Igor Gongalsky got into a wrestling match earning themselves fighting majors off the bat. At the 6:19 mark, the Barons finally scored first against Rochester as ECHL Bakersfield call-up Dylan Yeo blasted a shot from the point past MacIntyre giving the Barons the 1-0 lead, thanks to a great pass from Hartikainen. He wasn't done though and just 1:49 later he'd do it again with assists from Chorney and Cornet and the Barons took the 2-0 lead. Towards the end of the period, Marcus Foligno caught Antti Tyrvainen with his head down, forcing Antti to slowly make his way to the bench while Foligno taunted him on the way.
The 2nd period went by scoreless, but still had some interesting moments as Turnbull tried to get Cameron Abney to fight, but he wouldn't go. Abney instead tried to get Foligno to go later on in the period, but Foligno clung to the linesman instead. On the ensuing faceoff, Maxime Legault ran over Curtis Hamilton which drew a gathering from Abney and Zack Kassian, earning both Abney and Kassian a ten-minute miscoduct heading into the second intermission. Rochester got one back right at the start of the 3rd period as Hartikainen failed to clear the puck and Jacob Lagace made him pay, putting it past Danis to make it 2-1. Midway through the period the Barons regained the two-goal lead from Curtis Hamilton after receiving a nice pass from Ryan Keller on a 2-on-1 made possible by Milan Kytnar. With two and a half minutes to go, Rochester pulled MacIntyre and no sooner than they got the extra attacker out, the Americans scored at 17:39 to pull back within one. Then about a minute later, Rochester tried to pull MacIntyre for an extra attacker again, but Hunter Tremblay began heading towards the Americans end. MacIntyre headed back to the net and Tremblay was able to put it past him with 1:17 left on the clock putting the Barons up 4-2 and giving them their third straight win.
Saturday night, the Barons headed to Cleveland to take on the Lake Erie Monsters, also on the tail end of a three-in-three. David LeNeveu would get the start for the Barons against Trevor Cann. The 1st period went by scoreless, but early in the period Abney and Scott Langdon got into it at 3:58 earning themselves unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Then five seconds after they leave the box, Abney heads straight for Langdon and starts swinging and puts them both back in the box. A tripping call on the returning Kirill Tulupov would round out the period.
At 7:45 as the whistle blew for an offsides call, Antti Tyrvainen would put Cameron Gaunce in a headlock. I'm still not sure on what led to that, but regardless they both received roughing minors. About three and a half minutes later at the 11:10 mark, the Barons finally break open the scoring with Philippe Cornet scoring his 19th goal of the season thanks to a hit from the also returning Tyler Pitlick that knocked the puck from a Lake Erie defender and Ryan Keller getting the puck to Cornet for the shot and the Barons took the 1-0 lead. Dylan Yeo, after his two-goal game the previous night, took an unmatched roughing minor at 12:52 which allowed the Monsters to tie it up at 1-1. The goal had been initially waved off, but the call was overturned by the back referee and allowed. 1-1 was the score as the teams began the 3rd period.
Near the 8:00 point of the 3rd, Teemu Hartikainen was driven into the boards at a whistle by David Liffiton. Hartikainen was slow to get up and looked to be favoring his lower back. Already given the major, Liffiton was given a game misconduct due to the injury caused. The Barons took advantage of the power play time and 26 seconds into it, Cornet earned his 20th goal of the season and his second of the night off of the glove of Cann. The goal also gave the Barons their third straight game with a two-goal scorer in the lineup. The Barons survived the last minute onslaught by the Monsters, and Ryan Keller scored the empty netter from about 100 feet out, giving the Barons the 3-1 win and their fourth straight win.
With Abbotsford splitting their weekend set against Charlotte, and Houston losing all three of their games in extra time, the Barons extended their lead in the division to five points over the Aeros and six points over the Heat. The Barons also took the lead back in the League standings with the Hershey Bears losing three straight, putting the Barons up by four points over the Bears and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
The Barons return home for a four-game homestand spread out over two weekends. This week the Barons will take on the Houston Aeros, against whom the Barons have won all five meetings so far this season against. Saturday night, the Texas Stars return to the Cox Center after beating the Barons in their last meeting over a month ago.
The Barons will have back Josh Green, Ryan O`Marra, and Colten Teubert, getting back their strength up the middle, but also lose Teemu Hartikainen, Lennart Petrell, and Taylor Chorney as they head up to the Oilers. Alex Plante hopes to return to the lineup this weekend as well, after taking part in contact practices. Chris VandeVelde was injured in Friday night's game after getting stepped on his arm by a skate, keeping him out of Saturday's game. With a week to heal, it's unknown if he'll be in the lineup this weekend.
★★★ - Philippe Cornet (3 G, 1 A)
★★ - Ryan Keller (1 G, 4 A)
★ - Mark Arcobello (2 G, 2 A)