Magnus Paajarvi's frequent flyer miles got a nice boost for over the summer, after last weekend.
The Oklahoma City Barons went on the road this weekend for their second-to-last road trip of this regular season. With the chance to clinch the playoffs on the line, the Barons also looked at trying to clinch the division as well. After losing Kevin Montgomery and Taylor Chorney to injuries last weekend, the Barons made their first Amateur tryout transaction of the season, signing defenseman Michael Marcou out of the University of Massachussets-Amherst. The Barons also called up Cameron Abney and Ryan Lowery from the Stockton Thunder.
Heading to Milwaukee on Friday night, the Barons had a chance to clinch a spot in the playoffs with a win against the Admirals. Before the game, Magnus Paajarvi was called up to the Oilers, and then sent right back down after they were told he was unable to be a call-up unless it was under emergency condition, and the Barons were unable to have him in the line-up. Mike Marcou made his professional debut alongside Colten Teubert. Alex Plante also made his return to the Barons line-up after being out with a concussion, paired with Bryan Rodney. Yann Danis got the start in net against Jeremy Smith for Milwaukee. After going 15 games where the team hasn't had more power play chances than penalty kills, the penalty woes continued for the Barons. Dylan Yeo and Teubert both had penalties for the Barons in the first ten minutes of the game, but the PK killed them both. At 13:46, Antti Tyrvainen broke the scoring open after receiving a pass right off a faceoff from Anton Lander in front of the goal, and he scored to make it a 1-0 Barons lead. With another successful PK in the period, the Barons ended the 1st with the 1-0 lead.
Yann Danis made some big saves early on in the 2nd to keep it a 1-0 game. The Barons stayed out of the box for the first half of the period, and it paid off as Tanner House received a pass from Lander between the circles and scored to make it 2-0 Barons at 8:02. The discipline waned two minutes later, and the Barons committed three straight penalties which they successfully killed as the 2nd period came to an end.
The 3rd period began with the Barons just 20 minutes from clinching their spot in the playoffs. Milwaukee would make it a little tougher for the Barons 23 seconds in, as Kevin Henderson scored to make it a one-goal game. The Barons answered right back a minute later, as Tyler Pitlick picked up a Mark Arcobello rebound to put the Barons back up by two goals at the 1:36 mark. Former Oiler Zack Stortini laid a big hit on Tanner House and picked up a charging penalty at 3:29. The Barons spent the majority of the period after trying to goad Stortini into a fight, but he never obliged and caused Alex Plante to take a roughing penalty at 10:14. The Barons were able to kill it off, but the Admirals scored right after off the stick of Ryan Flynn at 12:29. The Barons gave the Admirals a chance to get the tying goal, as Plante went back to the box a minute later for a double-minor variety high-sticking call. Hunter Tremblay took a hooking penalty right in the middle, to put the Barons on a 3-on-5 PK for a full two minutes. The PK unit and Yann Danis stood tall, and the Barons finished the game with the 3-2 win, earning them the first playoff berth in the Western Conference. The Barons killed off 10 penalties in total, while only having five power play opportunities, extending their streak of having more PKs than PPs to 16 games.
The next night, the Barons were in Grand Rapids to face the Griffins for the third time in four games. The Barons had a chance to clinch the division title with a single point, or if the San Antonio Rampage lost their game. Colten Teubert was called up earlier in the day, and Ryan Lowery drew in along with Kirill Tulupov as Marcou was scratched. Yann Danis got the start again against Tom McCollum for the Griffins. Grand Rapids broke open the scoring in this one at the 5:17 mark with Chris Minard scoring off a cross-ice pass from Jamie Johnson to make it 1-0 Griffins. The Barons had too many men on the ice at 7:32, and on the power play it was Minard again from Chris Conner to make it 2-0 Griffins at 8:55. Three minutes later, the Griffins had a rush up the ice. Danis was able to stop the first shot, the first rebound, but Landon Ferraro put home the second rebound to make it 3-0 Griffins at 11:56 and that remained the score as the horn sounded to end the 1st.
The second period went by with the only three power play chances for the Barons in the game, but they were unable to convert on any of them. As the period began to wind down, Chris Minard netted the hat trick at 19:28 after he came in unnoticed on a rush and made it 4-0 Griffins after two. The Barons began to get more chances in the 3rd, and some paid off with Tanner House breaking the shutout bid for the Griffins at 6:32, with assists from Lander and Tyrvainen. A PK later, and Riley Sheahan scored his first of the season to make it 5-1 Griffins at 7:40. House netted his second goal of the night at 10:12 from Plante and Lander to make it 5-2 Barons, but Joakim Andersson put it away at 13:30 to make it 6-2 Griffins, giving the Barons the loss.
San Antonio won their game in a shootout, but on Sunday in Peoria, they fell 1-0 and the Barons clinched the West Division title in the process. The line of Tanner House, Anton Lander, and Antti Tyrvainen accounted for four of the Barons five goals in the weekend. The Barons look ahead to this week and their last homestand of the season. Tuesday night, the Hamilton Bulldogs come into town, and then the Barons will face the Chicago Wolves and Peoria Rivermen this weekend, as the teams looks ahead to clinching the Western Conference crown. Toronto currently sits four points behind the Barons and have played one more game.