Coming off of a losing weekend, going 1-2 in three games, the Oklahoma City Barons looked to rebound one last time at home before heading out on a six-game road trip. This week, the Barons closed out their four-game homestand against the Texas Stars and then headed out to North Carolina to take on the Charlotte Checkers in a two-game set.
To start out the week, the Barons lost Yann Danis to a call-up to the Oilers and subsequently gained Olivier Roy from the Stockton Thunder. The Barons also added Ryan Martindale to the line-up, filling in for the injured Hunter Tremblay.
With Danis in Edmonton, the Barons were going to rely heavily on David LeNeveu as he got the start Wednesday night against Texas and Andrew Raycroft. It was an exciting first ten minutes in the game. The Barons were unable to score on a quick delay of game penalty by Brenden Dillon, and minutes later, the fireworks began. Kirill Tulupov laid a hit on Mathieu Tousignant, drawing the ire of the other Stars players. Newcomer Nick Layton charged in at Tulupov, and in defense Tulupov flipped Layton over and cocked his fist at the ready. After confusion on the penalties assessed, Tulupov was finally issued two minutes for roughing, five minutes for interference, and a game misconduct for interference, while Layton was just assessed two minutes for roughing. On the major power play, the Stars capitilized as Jordie Benn scored on a breakaway on a play that for the second straight game should have been whistled down as offsides. The Barons killed off the rest of the penalty and were given a chance of their own to tie the game up as Angelo Esposito and Benn took penalties within six second of eachother to put the Barons on a 5-on-3 advantage. With time winding down in the period, Mark Arcobello centered a pass that went in, and the Barons tied it up as they headed to the locker rooms.
The Barons picked right back up where they left off in the 1st, as Ryan Keller scored his 17th goal of the season to give the Barons the 2-1 lead just 1:19 into the period. Three minutes later, it was Teemu Hartikainen's turn as he tipped a Bryan Helmer point shot to make it a 3-1 Barons lead. About eight minutes later, Arcobello scored his second goal of the game after Keller left the puck for him, and he made it 4-1 at the 12:25 mark of the 2nd period. Andrew Raycroft was then pulled for Tyler Beskorowany to finish out the game. Raycroft slammed his stick against the dasher board and glared at the Texas bench on the way out. Beskorowany played well in the period, and that was all the scoring for the Barons that period.
The Barons didn't quit in this one either, and 7:50 into the period, Triston Grant received a great pass from Hartikainen and Grant went top shelf and blasted the shot into the goal to make it 5-1 Barons, which would hold to be the final score as the Barons split their homestand 2-2.
Travelling the next day, the Barons headed to Charlotte, North Carolina to take on the Checkers for their last two-game set of the regular season. This was a big weekend set for the team, as Charlotte has been a big thorn in their side this entire season. LeNeveu received the start again against John Muse of the Checkers. The momentum from Wednesday didn't travel with the Barons on the plane, and the Barons felt it. 13:58 into the 1st, A.J. Jenks scored his 3rd of the season on an Antti Tyrvainen tripping call, giving Charlotte the 1-0 lead. At 14:07, Grant and Nicolas Blanchard dropped the gloves, with Grant earning the decision and an extra two for unsportsmanlike. A little more than four minutes later, Matthew Pistilli scored his tenth of the season off a tip to make it a 2-0 game after twenty minutes.
Unable to shut it down, the Baron allowed yet another goal at the 8:21 mark after Zach Boychuk was sprung from the penalty box and received the head-man pass. His shot was saved by LeNeveu but Brett Sutter was there for the rebound to make it 3-0 Charlotte. Less then three minutes later on the power play, A.J. Jenks got his turn to tip a shot in on LeNeveu to make it 4-0 and chase LeNeveu from the game as Olivier Roy made his Barons debut. 41 seconds after entering the game, he was put into a 3-on-5 situation as both Helmer and Keller received minors - Helmer for roughing, Keller for unsportsmanlike conduct. First shot on the power play, and Chris Terry it got past Roy to make it 5-0 Charlotte, which is where it stood at the 2nd intermission.
The Barons finally showed signs of life in the 3rd. Serving a hooking penalty from the end of the 2nd, Linus Omark was sprung from the box and he received a pass from Chris VandeVelde, took it up ice and behind the Charlotte net. Faking out a defenseman, Omark took it forward and scored on the wraparound to make it a 5-1 game. Two minutes later on a goal mouth scramble, VandeVelde got the goal this time to make it a 5-2 game in less than four minutes. Any momentum the Barons gained was lost however, as on the next faceoff Terry fed Justin Shugg with a pass for a breakaway, and Shugg potted it to make it 6-2 Charlotte. That would be the final score, but not before a fight between Grant and Justin Soryal. Michal Jordan boarded Grant, and when Grant went to check Jordan, Soryal interjected and instigated a fight, earning him an extra two and misconduct. LeNeveu was assessed the loss and Roy stopped 18 of 20 shots faced in his Barons debut.
The next night, the two teams were back at it with LeNeveu and Muse both back in goal. After ten minutes of scoreless play, the Checkers broke through at the 11:25 mark with Sean Dolan getting a pass from Evgenii Dadonov to make it 1-0 Checkers. Six minutes later, Bryan Helmer and Philippe Cornet got into it with Brett Sutter and Nicolas Blanchard and Cornet - yes Cornet - was given a five minute major for fighting with Blanchard, while Helmer and Sutter both earned off-setting minors to close out the 1st.
The start of the 2nd period was quiet again until Josh Green scored his tenth of the season at 7:59 to tie it back up with assists from Omark and Tyler Pitlick. It didn't stay tied for too long, as at the 17:12 mark, Mathieu Roy received a pass of his own from Dadonov and scored to give the Checkers back the lead 2-1 to end the 2nd. The 3rd period was even quieter to start out until the 15:43 mark when Zach Boychuk was given a penalty shot after being hauled down by Bryan Rodney on a breakaway. Boychuck put the puck over the net, and Rodney continued to complain about the call and drew a misconduct, sending him out for the rest of the game. The Barons pushed hard in the last four minutes and it finally paid off with two minutes remaining in the 3rd as Teemu Hartikainen stripped the puck from a Charlotte player and Tyrvainen picked up the goods, put it past Muse, and the Barons tied the game up at 2-2 to send it to overtime.
It was all Barons at the start of the OT period, but once Charlotte started going, the went strong. The Barons were playing up on the Charlotte goal, and the Checkers were able to spring a breakaway, not once but twice and David LeNeveu had big saves on each one to keep the Barons in it. Finally, after facing six Charlotte shots in OT, LeNeveu and the Barons headed to a shootout. The Barons were 3-3 in shootouts heading into this one while Charlotte was 5-3. Cornet, Omark, and Keller were scoreless in the first three rounds until Hartikainen scored to give the Barons a 1-0 edge after four. Justin Shugg scored on the next attempt and with a chance to win it, Mark Arcobello's shot was saved. In sudden death, it only took two rounds with LeNeveu saving shots from Matthew Pistilli and Bobby Sanguinetti. Antii Tyrvainen missed on his attempt, but Josh Green scored to take home the victory for the Barons to give them back first place in the AHL.
This week, the Barons head back on the road to the Great Lakes region for a three in three weekend. The Barons start out Friday in Peoria, head to Grand Rapids for Saturday's game, and head back to Illinois to take on the Vancouver farm team Chicago Wolves for the first time this season. The Barons will have Anton Lander in the line-up for the first time this season, after he was assigned to OKC on Saturday before the game, but not in time to play in it. With 75 points on the season, the Barons currently sit atop the league tied with the Norfolk Admirals, but with a higher point percentage the Barons sit in the top spot.