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The OKC Barons Are (Almost) On A Rampage

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Tulupov celebrates! <a href="" target="new">Photo by Candace Riley</a> © 2011
Tulupov celebrates! Photo by Candace Riley © 2011

The AHL-leading Oklahoma City Barons entered this weekend to take on the San Antonio Rampage in a true home-and-home series, riding a three game winning streak after sweeping their three-in-three road trip last weekend. San Antonio hasn't made a whole lot of noise this season, but they did beat the Abbotsford Heat in a doubleheader, giving the Barons a little bit of a cushion in the division.

With the first game at home, the Barons started David LeNeveu, while the Rampage started Jacob Markstrom. It wasn't an active game on the scoring side, but the 1st period included a fight from Eric Selleck and Alex Plante, started when Selleck tried to get Chris VandeVelde to fight at the benches. Plante won that one quite easily. The teams traded power play opportunities, but neither team scored and the Barons led 8-6 in shots on goal at the 1st intermission.

The 2nd period saw the Barons on an early power play chance, but they couldn't convert. This period saw Brian Sutherby and Kirill Tulupov drop the gloves, after Tulupov laid a nice hit on Sutherby on the sideboards. Tulupov remembered the fight strap this time, as he lost the jersey again but he didn't lose the fight, and gave the crowd a victory fist pump on his way off the ice. The Barons led 20-14 in shots on goal heading into the 2nd intermission.

The Barons finally broke through in the 3rd period, as Ryan Keller shot from the right circle and snuck the puck between Markstrom's legs with just enough power to trickle over the line behind him, giving the Barons the 1-0 lead with assists by Mark Arcobello and Triston Grant. The trifecta of Barons enforcers was completed in the 3rd, as Grant and Nolan Yonkman dropped the gloves this time. It was be the same result as the other two fights, with Grant getting the win, and Yonkman ending with bloodied knuckles. The Barons held on and got LeNeveu the 1-0 shutout victory.

The next night, the teams played again in the ATT Center in San Antonio. Coach Todd Nelson went with the extremely rare (for the Barons anyway) back-to-back starts in goal as LeNeveu got the start again, and Dov Grummet-Morris was in net for the Rampage. After a fight-filled first game, this one was much quieter in comparison. San Antonio scored early on at the 8:49 mark of the 1st, as Michal Repik potted the goal, assisted by Wacey Rabbit and James Wright. In a much different outcome than the night before, the Rampage led the shots 16-6 at the 1st intermission.

The Barons came out strong in the 2nd, and tied the game up at the 13:30 mark, as Tanner House scored his second goal of the season with Milan Kytnar and Triston Grant getting the assists. It was grant's second assist of the weekend. It wouldn't last long though, as Evan Barlow scored in the closing seconds of the period to make it a 2-1 game for the Rampage. The Barons weren't able to able to fight back this time, and the 3rd period was scoreless ending a four-game winning stream for the Barons.

At the end of the weekend, the Barons continue to lead the AHL with 33 points, with Abbotsford right in step, but with two more games played. St. John's leads the AHL in winning percentage, having played one less game than the Barons. The Barons are 6-4 in their last ten, and enter this weekend facing another three-in-three, starting in Houston for their Kid's Day Game on Thursday. The Barons will return to OKC on Friday night to take on Peoria for the first time this season, and end the weekend in Austin on Saturday as they take on the Stars for the first time since the 7-0 loss and subsequent 10-1 win to start the season.

★★★ - Ryan Keller
★★ - Triston Grant
★ - David LeNeveu