With a few days of much needed rest, the Oklahoma City Barons would spend their Thanksgiving holiday in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After splitting their two-game set against the Abbotsford Heat last season, the Barons looked to get back on top of the Western Division standings.
Making their way to the Van Andel Arena for the first time this season, the Barons looked to continue their winning ways in the building, as they've never lost in regulation in the building. With Yann Danis in net, Triston Grant would start things off early, scoring 4:25 into the game. Gilbert Brule would commit an interference penalty, and Gustav Nyquist would tie it up on the power play at 7:26. Brule would help to make up for it though, as just a minute later he would score to make it a 2-1 Barons lead and it would stay that way until the 1st intermission.
Things would start to get chippy in the 2nd, but not before a Joakim Andersson goal to tie the game up at 2-2. At the 14:41 mark, Garnet Exelby would spear Alex Plante as Plante was skating towards Exelby. Exelby would be assessed a 2-minute minor for High-Sticking, a 5-minute major, and two Game Misconducts - one for the spearing, and another for swinging his stick at the glass in the direction of the referee. On the ensuing power play, Philippe Cornet would score his 13th goal of the season to put the Barons up 3-2. As the period drew to a close, Tyler Pitlick would check a Griffins player into the boards, resulting in what was described as a soft boarding call. Pitlick would be assessed a major and a Game Misconduct, giving the Griffins a chance in the 3rd.
Landon Ferraro was given a minor for roughing for his actions in the Pitlick call, and as the teams were skating four-on-four at the beginning of the 3rd, Teemu Hartikainen would score his eighth goal of the season to make it 4-2 Barons. Near the midway point of the period, Curtis Hamilton would net his first professional goal of his career with assists from Mark Arcobello and Dan Ringwald, on a try-out from Stockton. At 12:36, Greg Amadio would play the antagonist, and draw Hartikainen into taking a double-minor for roughing. The Griffins would once again take advantage with Chris Conner making it a 5-3 game. After the penalties were over, Amadio and Grant would drop the gloves with Grant getting the better in the fight. The Griffins would try to make a game of it, with Jamie Johnson scoring at the 18:19 mark, but the Barons would hold out, and that would be the final score.
Saturday night, the Barons would head back to Rockford to take on the IceHogs, with David LeNeveu in net. Brule would take a penalty early on in the game, and the Barons would get a power play chance of their own, but the 1st period would end scoreless. That wouldn't be the case for long though as Cornet would score his 14th goal on a Ryan Stanton tripping power play. Teemu Hartikainen would take a spill in the 2nd period and run into the boards shoulder first. He wouldn't return to the game, and will be out an estimated 4-6 weeks. The 2nd would end with the Barons on top 1-0.
Following a Bryan Helmer interference penalty kill, Cornet would score his 15th goal of the season to make it 2-0. The Barons would commit a Too Many Men penalty at 12:26, and Brian Connelly would answer 11 seconds later to cut the Barons lead in half. Rockford would pull their goalie, and Ryan O`Marra would put the game away with an empty netter, giving the Barons the 3-1 win.
Back in Grand Rapids for a Sunday evening game, it was a much calmer game compared to Friday. As a result of the incident on Friday, Garnet Exelby was suspended for that night's game. Triston Grant would commit a rare clipping penalty early on in the first, and Tomas Tatar would start the scoring for the Griffins on the power play. Mitch Callahan would commit a high-sticking penalty soon after, and the Barons would answer back with a power play goal of their own with Gilbert Brule receiving a pass from Tyler Pitlick. In the final seconds of the period, Joakim Andersson would score with 13 seconds left to give the Griffins a 2-1 lead after one.
Seven minutes into the 2nd, Brule would get his second of the night, scoring off of a Dan Ringwald shot off the faceoff to tie the game back up. Eight minutes later, the Griffins' Landon Ferraro would score his third of the season to gain back the lead. The Barons wouldn't have any of it and 38 seconds later, Ryan Keller and Cornet would pass the puck back and forth before Keller put it away to tie the game at 3-3. Three minutes later, Ryan O`Marra would give the Barons their first lead of the game, passing the puck to the center but having it ricochet into the net. The teams would head to the locker rooms with the Barons leading 4-3.
Early into the 3rd, the Griffins would tie it right back up at 4-4 with Jamie Johnson getting the goal. Tomas Tatar would take a holding penalty at 12:22, and a minute later Pitlick would receive a pass from Brule this time, and score the game-winning goal with the final being 5-4.
Getting the weekend sweep, the Barons sit atop the AHL standings. Houston and St. John's sit in second place with a .700 winning percentage. This weekend, the Barons return home with their three-game winning streak to play a home-and-home with the San Antonio Rampage starting on Friday, and concluding the following night in San Antonio. Philippe Cornet currently leads the league in goals with 15 goals in 20 games, well ahead of the pace that Colin McDonald set last season.
★★★ - David LeNeveu
★★ - Gilbert Brule
★ - Philippe Cornet