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Water Creatures Galore, OKC Barons Take On The Rivermen and Monsters

Teemu knows it's a goal. Magnus Paajarvi had two goals and three assists in three games this week for the Oklahoma City Barons. Photo copyright Kathleen Rodgers, All Rights Reserved
Teemu knows it's a goal. Magnus Paajarvi had two goals and three assists in three games this week for the Oklahoma City Barons. Photo copyright Kathleen Rodgers, All Rights Reserved

After struggling last weekend and managing only one point in three games, the Oklahoma City Barons looked to turn their fortunes around and get back to their winning ways. On a three-game winless streak, the Barons had one more game in Peoria to close out their season-high six-game road streak before returning home to take on the Lake Erie Monsters for a two-game set. Five games into the road trip, the Barons were currently at 1-3-0-1 after being one of the more dominant teams on the road.

Starting out in Peoria to close out the road trip and the season series between the two teams, the Barons were still without Yann Danis - suffering from a knee problem - and were now without Anton Lander after he suffered a hip pointer on Sunday in Chicago. Since the last meeting a few days ago, Peoria made some moves at the AHL's trade deadline and picked up the Barons old nemesis in Patrick O'Sullivan, and added a new backup goaltender in Alex Stalock. David LeNeveu got the start in net as Jake Allen started the game for Peoria. Giving up the first goal in seven of the last eight games, the Barons scored the first goal of this one as Hunter Tremblay dished a centering pass to a driving Chris VandeVelde who put it past Allen to make it a 1-0 Barons lead at 6:47 of the 1st. The 1st period was a much better start than the Barons have had lately, as they led shots 12-7, and the game 1-0 after 20 minutes.

The Barons kept it up in the 2nd period and at 11:30 of the period, Josh Green picked up a rebound and scored his 11th of the season with assists from Magnus Paajarvi and Teemu Hartikainen. Their next shift out, it was Paajarvi getting the goal this time, his third of the season, with assists from Hartikainen and Dylan Yeo at 14:52 to make it a 3-0 Barons lead. After that goal, the Rivermen decided to switch out Allen and Alex Stalock made his Rivermen debut in relief. The move woke the Rivermen up and four minutes later, Danny Syvret put home a shot, assisted by O'Sullivan and Jonathan Cheechoo, during a Green interference penalty to break up the LeNeveu shoutout and make it a 3-1 game after 40 minutes of play. The Barons continued to lead the shots 30-18 after two.

Whatever the Barons had in the first part of the game, they lost it during the intermission. Failing to capitalize on an early Anthony Peluso hooking penalty, Adam Cracknell scored his 17th of the season from in front, assisted by O'Sullivan and Derek Nesbitt, to cut the Barons lead to 3-2 at 5:16. Later on in the period, Triston Grant took an interference penalty at 13:41, and 25 seconds into the power play, Syvret scored his second of the game from the point, assisted by who else but O'Sullivan and Nesbitt, to tie the game up at 3-3. The Rivermen outshot the Barons in the 3rd period 13-8, and the teams headed to overtime. At 1:23 of the period, Bryan Rodney got away with one cross-check but got called on a second near the Barons net, and the Rivermen went on their fourth power play of the game. 19 seconds later, of course it's Patrick O'Sullivan scoring the game-winner assisted by Nesbitt and Syvret, and the Barons fall in overtime 4-3.

Friday night, the Barons returned home to the Cox Center to take on the Lake Erie Monsters for a two-game set. With Yann Danis still out, David LeNeveu again got the start in net against Cedrick Desjardins. Anton Lander remained out as well. The 1st period wasn't much of a defensive battle, but the goalies stood tall as LeNeveu turned away 15 shots and Desjardins turned away 10 as the teams headed to the locker rooms scoreless. The 2nd period was much of the same, but with a lot less shots as the Barons had eight to the Monsters four. The Barons were unable to capitalize on three power play chances in the 2nd period - including a forty second 5-on-3 - and for only the third time all season the Barons headed to the locker room in a scoreless tie after 40 minutes.

Things started to pick up in the 3rd as the Monsters broke the scoreless tie at 4:46 with Evan Brophy tipping a Patrick Rissmiller shot in the slot to make it a 1-0 game. The Barons stayed with it, and Josh Green kept his scoring streak alive by scoring off of a Magnus Paajarvi rebound to tie the game at 1-1 at the 10:41 mark. Later on in the period, Tyler Pitlick was called for a goaltender interference penalty after Desjardins flopped after getting barely touched by Pitlick. The Barons succesfully killed it, and were close to getting one last power play chance, but on the delayed call, Mark Arcobello was hit and took a tumble and was called for diving to negate the chance. With the teams playing 4-on-4, the period ended and the teams headed to overtime. With the penalties still in effect, the overtime period started out with the teams playing 3-on-3. Neither team scored, and the teams prepared for a shootout.

Rissmiller scored on the Monsters' first attempt, as Ryan Keller and Teemu Hartikainen missed on their attempts. LeNeveu turned away the next three Monsters shots by Ryan Stoa, Evan Brophey, and Eric Hunter, while Paajarvi, Green, and Hunter Tremblay all scored on their's to secure the win for the Barons in the shootout.

The two teams returned to the Cox Center the next night, with Gerald Coleman in net for the Monsters and David LeNeveu back in net for the Barons. The Barons made a small change in the line-up as Triston Grant sat with Ryan Martindale drawing in for him on the fourth line. Things started up quick as Antti Tyrvainen and Mike Brennan fought after a stoppage by Coleman. A lot of punches thrown, but not much landed and the fight ended after Tyrvainen lost his balance. At 5:24, David LeNeveu took a double minor for high-sticking after Greg Mauldin got clipped as he was rounding the Barons net. Towards the end of the power play, David van der Gulik scored on a one-timer after being left alone while players got tangled up on the opposite side of the ice, and the Monsters took a 1-0 lead 9:07 into the game. That was the only scoring in the period, and the Barons led shots 11-7 after 20 minutes.

The 2nd period had a slow start, but the Barons picked things up in the latter half of the period. At 12:16, Joel Chouinard tripped up Tyrvainen. On the power play, Josh Green drove between two Monsters and into the slot, letting loose a shot past Coleman to tie things at 1-1. Four minutes later, Magnus Paajarvi picked up a loose puck after a failed strip attempt by Lake Erie and had open ice to make the shot and score to give the Barons the 2-1 lead at the end of two.

In the 3rd period, the Barons were successful in holding off the Monsters, but late in the period at 18:25, Evan Brophy picked up a rebound and tied the game up at 2-2, sending the game to overtime for the second straight night. In OT, the Barons suffered their second overtime loss of the week as Brad Malone drove in on the left side and sniped a shot in the right corner to give the Monsters the 3-2 win.

While the week didn't give much help to the Barons in the Wins column, they did secure four of a possible six points. While the Barons were off on Sunday, Abbotsford, Houston, and San Antonio all lost in regulation to give the Barons a bit more of a cushion in the division race. With 80 points, the Barons lead the Western Conference with a five-point lead over the Toronto Marlies. Looking ahead, the Barons have a four-game week in front of them. The Rockford IceHogs visit the Cox Center to finish their season series. The Barons then hit the road for a 3-in-3 weekend, visiting Cedar Park to take on the Texas Stars for a two-game set on Friday and Saturday, and then head down to Houston to face the Aeros to close out the week.