The Oklahoma City Barons redux project got underway in the Cox Center on Friday night. Punching your dance card with one of the best teams in the Western Conference for most of the season wasn’t likely what Todd Nelson had dreamed. We’d eventually see the little indiscretions that the Barons put forth early and often against the Charlotte Checkers. A 7-0 pasting was in order, as seven different Checkers scored across both Yann Danis and Olivier Roy.
Of the deflated performance, Coach Nelson shared the blame all around. “When you lose 7-0 you have a lot of passengers (along for the ride),” said Barons coach Todd Nelson. “That’s one thing we can’t have.”
Likewise, captain Josh Green was none too pleased. “We can’t get too down,” said team captain Josh Green said. “Hopefully, we learned from it, remember the feeling and play like we don’t want it to happen again. Obviously, we need to get better, play a little more gritty and have guys care a little more. This was embarrassing.”
Two goals in the first, three goals in the second, and two more in the third handcuffed the Barons to a loss unlike many we’ve seen in three seasons (did happen last year against Texas).
But in painful defeat there were occasional bright spots. None were on the defensive side of the puck, but rather were offensive spasms from those most likely to step up in the shadow of the NHL guys who’ve departed. Toni Rajala, in particular, looked high flying out of the gate, and actually ripped two big shots that either glanced the post or were shuffled aside. Magnus Paajarvi and Teemu Hartikainen also looked solid with pending callups to Edmonton forthcoming.
Danis and Roy had nights to forget, and despite getting virtually no help from their defense in front of them, you would have hoped they would have performed better.
Nonetheless, the Barons look to regroup for a rematch tonight in Oklahoma City. Albeit it with a slightly different Checkers squad in front of them. Announced today:
In anticipation of a handful of players leaving for NHL training camps, the Checkers restocked their own roster on Saturday, recalling three ECHL players and signing two more to professional tryout contracts.
Headlining the group of new players are goaltender John Muse and defenseman Beau Schmitz, who are both under NHL contracts with the Hurricanes. Matt Beca, on an AHL contract with Charlotte, also joins via recall, while forwards Matthew Pistilli, a former Checker, and Leigh Salters join on professional tryout contracts.
With the exception of Beca, who was traded to South Carolina in exchange for Pistilli two weeks ago, all of the Checkers’ new players come from their ECHL affiliate in Florida. All but Salters and Schmitz have played for the Checkers in the past, though both of those players attended this season’s training camp in Charlotte.
All of the new players should be available for Saturday’s game in Oklahoma City. A list of Checkers headed to Carolina, who will not be available for Saturday’s game, is expected to come out later in the day.
And so OKC soldiers on before they lose a few of their own. A win before that occurs would be nice, and despite two losses in a row since losing Eberle, Hall, and Schultz – I think this team gets better. They really don’t have a choice.