There were four American Hockey League games last night that went into an extra frame with one of those being decided by a shoot out. I’m not willing to claim that the playing field is beginning to even out across all teams as a result of the lockouts end, but you can definitely bank on its metamorphosis beginning.
After a 7-0 loss that captain Josh Green called embarrassing, the team needed to perform better the next evening against the same Charlotte Checkers. Although, these weren’t the same Charlotte Checkers. Drayson Bowman, Zach Boychuk, Tim Wallace, Jeremy Welsh, Bobby Sanguinetti and Dan Ellis were well on their way to Carolina for training camp. And their absence was felt immediately.
However, the Checkers would still win out as they’d again find balanced scoring across three periods and net the eventual game winner in overtime with a 4-3 victory.
The Barons began the game as they had done so the night before. Quick to the puck and willing to take a high number of shots. For Charlotte, they merely played their opportunities and eventually would end the game with a near franchise low in shots for the entire game.
Riley Nash would score the first goal of the game after a Colten Teubert interference penalty. The Barons would have several big opportunities, but Charlotte goaltender Justin Peters showed perfect form coupled with a healthy dose of luck. The period would end with a 1-0 game, Charlotte in front.
The second period was a welcome sight for fans of OKC, as the team played its best period of hockey in at least two games. Mark Arcobello and Toni Rajala scored even strength goals that were sandwiched around a power play goal from Philippe Cornet. And although the OKC scoring outburst came fast and furious, the Checkers would eventually hang around and score a goal of their own. Brett Sutter near the middle of the second period put the Checkers back within one. The second period would end with a 3-2, Barons lead.
Things were going well for OKC as they continued to pepper Justin Peters with solid scoring chances, but it was a a late period equalizer from Charlotte that tied things up. That goal came at the under three mark of the third period during a four shot endeavor from the Checkers. Regulation would end with a 3-3 tie.
Then in the overtime frame, Philippe Cornet held a player to help negate a huge scoring chance, but the Checkers took the overtime power play in stride, and sealed the deal with a Chris Terry goal. The Checkers would beat the Barons, 4-3 on Saturday night. And although it wasn’t a fabulous night for goaltender Yann Danis, the team did escape with a point as well as some “we can do it” criteria for future success.
Blame the bad defense if you’d like, but Yann wasn’t good in this one. Let in four goals on 19 shots, and that is not good. His confidence seems a tad shaken.
It’s good to see lines getting jarred a bit. Here’s how they took shape last night:
Tonight’s scoring came from two lines, and that’s a good sign. The placement of Cornet favors both he and the remaining top liners. Why? This might be a top line we see for at least a week as NHL training camps are now underway. Noticeably scratched are Curtis Hamilton, Tyler Pitlick, and Tanner House. All three had shown a tad bit of improvement of late, and with Hartikainen, VandeVelde, and Paajarvi headed to Edmonton, they’ll get major upgraded minutes in the future.
The other shakeup occurred defensively. Here’s how the pairs looked last night:
I hesitate to call the pairs better, but at least the coaching staff immediately noticed the need for change.
The Barons play again this afternoon. They’ll face the Texas Stars whom will be without some of their key ingredients. Nilstorp, Eakin, Vincour, Dillon, and Benn are all candidates for camp and thus might not face OKC.