Martin Marincin impressed in his first week with the Oklahoma City Barons this season. Photo copyright Kathleen Rodgers, All Rights Reserved
The Oklahoma City Barons came into this week having clinched the West Division and in turn, one of the older trophies awarded in the American Hockey League, the John D. Chick Trophy. Looking to lock up the Western Division and home-ice throughout the playoffs, the Barons finished off their non-division matchups for the season, as well as starting their last homestand of the season.
Starting the homestand on Tuesday, the Barons finished off their series against the Hamilton Bulldogs. Near the bottom of the standings, the Bulldogs were looking keep their slim playoff hopes alive. Starting David LeNeveu in net, the Barons were without Bryan Rodney after he was called up to the Oilers on an emergency basis. In his place, the Barons started Martin Marincin, newly assigned after his season with the WHL's Regina Pats came to an end. With Kirill Tulupov and Dylan Yeo suffering from minor injuries over the weekend, Tulupov was scratched after the warmup and Michael Marcou made his home debut for the Barons. With Robert Mayer suffering from injury, the Bulldogs started ECHL call-up Peter Delmas.
Midway through the 1st period, things got a little bit heated after a tripping call to Olivier Malka. After the whistle, Antti Tyrvainen and Malka got into an exchange and Malka got an extra four minutes for an attemted spear to Tyrvainen. On a rare six-minute power play, the Barons had a chance on a 5-on-3 PP after Zack FitzGerald boarded Mark Arcobello. With the Barons unable to score, the period ended in a scoreless tie. A minute and 38 seconds into the 2nd, Josh Green was whistled for a hooking call. As the penalty neared it's end, Tyrvainen had a nice block on a point shot, picked up the puck on a 2-on-1 with Tanner House, and scored to make it a 1-0 Barons lead at 3:22, becoming the fourth Barons player to score a shorthanded goal this season. Both teams had an unsuccessful power play chance later in the period and the 2nd intermission began with the Barons leading 1-0.
The whistles were swallowed by the refs in the 3rd, and no penalties were called. Hunter Tremblay found the back of the net at 8:36 after picking up the puck in front off a rebound from an Arcobello shot. Tyler Pitlick picked up the second assist to grab his 21st point of the season. Ryan Keller put home an empty netter at 19:44, and David LeNeveu earned his second shutout of the season by stopping 30 shots and the game ended with the 3-0 Barons win.
After a couple days off, the Barons took on the Peoria Rivermen for the final time this season. After earning the shutout, David LeNeveu was in net once again for the Barons, and Jake Allen was between the pipes for the Rivermen. Bryan Rodney was back in the lineup for the Barons after his stint in Edmonton. The Barons killed a Marincin hooking penalty halfway through the 1st, and a minute later, Mark Cundari shot the puck on a wraparound and a crazy bounce made it past LeNeveu to give the Rivermen a 1-0 lead at 14:11. The Barons were unsuccessful on two power play chances in the 1st, and the period ended with the Barons down 1-0.
After a scoreless 2nd period, the Barons had to kill off a Dylan Yeo penalty early in the 3rd. Midway through the period, Ryan Keller put the Barons on the board as he drove to the net and put a loose puck into the net to score his second of the the week at 10:17. Josh Green and Antti Tyrvainen earned the assists. One minute after, Phil McRae was left all alone on a Peoria rush and he received a centering pass from Derek Nesbitt and scored to put the Rivermen back up by one, 2-1 at 11:20. The Barons pulled LeNeveu with a minute left, and Jonathan Cheechoo scored the empty netter to give the Rivermen the 3-1 win.
Yann Danis was in net for the Barons on Saturday night as the Chicago Wolves made their only appearance at the Cox Center this season with Eddie Lack in net. The Wolves had an early goal disallowed after a Chicago player interfered with Danis. The next time the puck crossed the line for the Wolves, it counted, as at 8:52 Bill Sweatt drove in on a breakaway with Alex Plante in tow. Plante got Sweatt to fall, but the momentum drove them into Danis and the puck into the net as well to give the Wolves a 1-0 lead. Dylan Yeo took a hooking penalty soon afterward, and Antti Tyrvainen took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after spraying Lack with snow at a whistle. On the 5-on-3 chance, Darren Haydar scored quickly to put the Wolves up 2-0 at 10:40. The Barons had their one and only chance on the power play in the game and were unsuccessful and the period ended with the Barons down 2-0.
The Barons had a bad start in the 2nd, and Bill Sweatt got another breakaway chance, but put this one in on his own at 1:35, putting the Wolves up 3-0. No penalties in the 2nd, and the Barons were down 3-0 after forty minutes of play. The Barons just seemed to go to sleep in the 3rd period, putting only five shots on net. Frustration began to show as Magnus Paajarvi and Mark Matheson earned coincidental roughing minors after an exchange. Triston Grant went after Antoine Roussel and dragged him down from behind. Roussel wanted nothing to do with Grant and turtled as Grant wanted to fight. Grant earned two for roughing and was given the gate with a 10-minute misconduct. The final horn mercifully sounded and the Barons were shutout 3-0.
Earning 14 penalty minutes over the weekend, Triston Grant now owns the single season record for most penalty minutes, beating out Alex Plante's 138 minutes from last season. He still trails Plante for the all-time record, though. With the Toronto Marlies on a six-game winning streak, the Barons and Marlies are now tied with 95 points as they head into the final week of the season. The Marlies have two games left, while the Barons have three. The Barons will have some reinforcements when they play their final home game of the season on Friday against the Houston Aeros as Teemu Hartikainen, Chris VandeVelde, and Colten Teubert return from Edmonton. The Barons then head on the road to play at Texas on Saturday, and finish off the season on Sunday at San Antonio. Who the Barons will play in the first round could be anybody's guess right now as 5th through 11th place sit just three points apart.