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On The Road Again, The Barons In Illinois And Michigan

After splitting the last weekend in Charlotte against the Checkers, the Oklahoma City Barons continued their road trip and headed north to the Great Lakes region. On the trip this time, were a couple familiar faces making a return, and a new face to the Barons team. Assigned last weekend before the Barons took on Charlotte, Anton Lander joined the team in OKC before headed out. Then, joining the team on the trip, Yann Danis and Magnus Paajarvi both returned to the Barons, while Olivier Roy returned to Stockton.

Friday night, the Barons began their three-in-three against the Peoria Rivermen. Yann Danis and Jake Allen both got the starts in net for their teams, with Anton Lander making his AHL debut between Linus Omark and Josh Green. It didn't take long for Lander to get on the box score, but not in the good column as he took a holding penalty 4:35 into the game. It was during that penalty that Danny Syvret shot from the point with a screen in front of Danis to make it a 1-0 game for Peoria. Four minutes later, Peoria struck again as Tyler Shattock, Syvret, and Brett Sonne all drove up the ice passing tic-tac-toe to eachother. Shattock got the puck last and shot it past Danis, making it a 2-0 game midway through the 1st. A Brad Ponich slashing call gave us a look at a new PP configuration with Omark and Green on the point with Lander, Teemu Hartikainen, and Paajarvi were all on the ice. Unable to convert on PP tries, the 1st period ended with the Rivermen up 2-0.

The 2nd period swung much more in the Barons favor. A fight by Triston Grant and Anthony Peluso at 3:10 seemed to spark something in the Barons, and 3:27 in, Ryan Keller picked up a Tanner House rebound and made it a 2-1 game. Near the end of the period, the penalty numbers must have been too low, and folowing a tripping call by Kevin Montgomery at 17:07, Cade Fairchild took a hooking call at 17:58 to make it a 4-on-4 game. A minute into that though, a tripping penalty was given to Hartikainen to put the Barons on a 4-on-3 penalty kill. Neither team was able to score and the teams headed to the locker rooms with the score at 2-1. Peoria led the shots after two 22-21.

The 3rd period began, and it didn't take long for things to get moving. With the Hartikainen penalty continuing from the 2nd period, 41 seconds in, Jonathan Cheechoo one-timed a pass from Syvret to put the Rivermen back up by two. The Barons came right back 25 seconds later as Ryan Keller drove the puck up the ice and took a shot as Mark Arcobello trailed behind to put away the rebound and bring the Barons back within one at 3-2. Six minutes in, Peoria drove the puck in and Phil McRae was left wide open as he received a pass in the slot and got it past Danis to make it 4-2 Peoria, which was the final score as the Barons suffered their first regulation loss at Peoria.

The next night, the Barons traveled to Michigan to take on the Grand Rapids Griffins and Ty Conklin, who hadn't lost a game since being sent down by Detroit. David LeNeveu was in net for the Barons this game. For the first time in a long while, the Barons got off to a fast start in the game as Triston Grant scored just 3:30 into the game with an assist by Chris VandeVelde. The Barons had two power play chances that they were unable to convert on and Grand Rapids was unable to convert on one of their own as the period ended with the Barons up 1-0 and leading shots 12-10.

It was a much different story in the 2nd period. Philippe Cornet took a quick holding penalty, and that was enough to open the gates for the Griffins. Gustav Nyquist scored his 18th of the season at 1:51 to tie the game for the Griffins. About five minutes later, it was Nyquist scoring again to give Grand Rapids their first lead of the game. The Barons committed two more penalties in the period that they were able to kill. Late in the period, Linus Omark gave the puck away and Fabian Brunnstrom and Doug Janik had a 2-on-1 the other way, with Brunnstrom getting the goal to make it a 3-1 Griffins lead as the period ended.

The Barons began to pressure more in the 3rd and it finally paid off for them at 14:33 on a Gleason Fournier high-sticking penalty, as Tyler Pitlick picked up a centering pass from Taylor Chorney and scored to bring the Barons back within one. Time was running short for the Barons however, but with just 61 seconds remaining in the game, a point shot by Josh Green was deflected in front by Magnus Paajarvi to tie the game back up at 3-3, sending the game into overtime. Neither team scored in the OT period, and so it headed to a shootout. Cornet, Hartikainen, Omark, and Paajarvi came up scoreless in their attempts with Brunnstrom and Chris Minard scoring for the Griffins, giving Grand Rapids the 4-3 shootout win.

Right back on the road, the Barons headed to Chicago to take on the Wolves and Eddie Lack for the first time this season. Olivier Roy was called up from Stockton as it turned out that Yann Danis tweaked his knee in the game against Peoria on Friday. So with LeNeveu in net, the Barons looked to turn around the road trip. The Barons certainly didn't make it easy for themselves with four straight penalties in the first, with Lander getting a double minor for high-sticking, putting the Barons on the PK for ten minutes of the 1st. Chicago took advantage and scored during a Kevin Montgomery holding penalty at 10:15, with Mark Mancari scoring his 23rd goal of the season. The Barons still managed 12 shots in the 1st, but it ended with them scoreless and down 1-0.

The Barons set a franchise record in the 2nd, but not a good one. Mancari shot the puck from the blue line and it bounced off the back of a Barons defender, catching LeNeveu by surprise and unable to stop it from going in just 26 seconds in. On the ensuing faceoff, Darren Haydar took the puck and drove in to score just seven seconds later, making those the fastest two goals scored against the Barons as the Barons were down 3-0. LeNeveu was pulled after this goal and Roy took over in net for the next 40 minutes. The Barons were able to break the shutout though, as 19:18 in, Linus Omark scored after getting the puck off an offensive end draw to make it 3-1 after two periods. The Barons were unable to make much of anything happen in the 3rd, and at 17:29 of the period, Mancari stripped the puck from Chorney, drove down the ice and scored on the breakaway to get the hat trick and put the game away for the Wolves, 4-1.

The Barons finish up the road trip this week back in Peoria to try and salvage something out of the road trip. The Barons are currently on their first three-game road winless streak this season, and came just 61 seconds from coming out of the weekend with nothing. The Barons still lead the Western Division and Conference, but the gap was closed a little bit. The Barons head back home after Wednesday's game to take on the Lake Erie Monsters in a two-game set.