The Oklahoma City Barons continued their five-game homestand this weekend, welcoming the Grand Rapids Griffins for a two-game set. After sweeping the Texas teams last weekend, the Barons looked to continue their three-game winning streak and Philippe Cornet was set to continue his two-game goal-scoring streak.
Friday night, the Barons began their two-game set with Yann Danis in net. Danis was coming off of his first shutout of the season against the Houston Aeros. Returning from injury, Gilbert Brule started the scoring quickly for the Barons, netting his first goal of the season at 2:41 of the 1st period during a power play. Three minutes later, the Griffins answered to tie the game at 1-1. In the closing minutes of the 1st period, Philippe Cornet scored on a delayed penalty while the Barons were already on the power play to extend his goal scoring streak to three games. His goal put the Barons ahead 2-1 as the period ended.
As the Barons and the Griffins traded power plays in the 2nd, including a 5 on 3 that the Barons weren't able to convert, Philippe Cornet scored again for his fifth goal in three games. The Barons took a 3-1 lead into the 3rd period. The Barons showed a surprising lack of discipline while taking three penalties, putting the Griffins on the power play three separate times in the third. The Barons penalty kill was up to the task and killed off all three man advantages. Teemu Hartikainen potted an empty netter, and the Barons extended their winning streak by a final score of 4-1.
David LeNeveu was in the net on Saturday night in his first action since winning in San Antonio. Also back in the lineup were Antti Tyrvainen, Curtis Hamilton, and Johan Motin. Sitting as healthy scratches were were Triston Grant, Tanner House and Ryan Lowery. Coach Todd Nelson said that none of the changes were performance-based, but rather to allow the guys some playing time.
After a pretty quiet 1st period, the 2nd period provided plenty of firewords for the home crowd. Halfway into the period, Gilbert Brule and Sebastien Piche dropped the gloves, with Piche dominating the fight. The Griffins finally broke open the scoring, as Brent Raedeke put one past LeNeveu. After Brule and Piche were released from the box, Brule took a hard run at Piche, crushing him into the boards. Piche headed to the locker room after the hit, and Brule sat in the penalty box for a high-sticking double minor. The Griffins scored early during the first of the minors, and took a 2-0 lead as the teams went to the locker rooms.
During the 3rd period, the Griffins engaged in the rough stuff, completely frustrating the Barons. Midway through the 3rd, Cornet and a Griffins player engaged in a battle along the boards, and Cornet fell to the ice. Brendan Smith began cross-checking Cornet behind the play, and Cornet dropped the gloves. Cornet's obviously not a fighter, and Smith got the decision and an extra minor for cross-checking. The Barons gave the Griffins a shot of their own medicine, scoring their first of the night during the ensuing power play, as Teemu Hartikainen scored his second goal in as many games. 1:30 later, Ryan O`Marra picked up his own rebound, and put the puck in the net to tie the game at 2-2. The rest of the period was uneventful, and the Barons went to their first overtime period of the season.
The Barons dominated overtime but Griffins goaltender Joey MacDonald stood tall, and the sent the Barons to their first shootout of the season. Cornet and the Griffins' Gustav Nyquist were the only two shooters to score during the first five rounds and the teams went to sudden death. Four more rounds passed without a goal until finally Brendan Smith snuck one past LeNeveu, and the Barons fell 3-2 in the shootout. After gaining three out of four possible points on the weekend, the Barons look ahead to next weekend's slate. The Charlotte Checkers head to OKC on Friday, the Barons head back to Texas to take on the Houston Aeros on Saturday, and then the San Antonio Rampage on Sunday afternoon.