It was inevitable that the Oklahoma City Barons would win a shootout this season. I just never dreamed it would be in a game prior to 2013, against the San Antonio Rampage, with Olivier Roy in net. But after losing all three shootouts this year (and all to the Houston Aeros), the Barons finally earn one as well as that coveted extra point. It would take 45 shots in regulation and in overtime to get just two goals around Jacob Markstrom. But eventually the Barons would win a shootout game in OKC with a 3-2 final.
The early goings of the first period were all San Antonio, with Oklahoma City slightly awkward both offensively and defensively. So it was pertinent for Olivier Roy to be good. In only his ninth start of the season, he seemed prepared for the Rampage despite a few major hiccups that nearly cost his team dearly. Nonetheless, he was swift to the puck in the first period, and it was his solid play that allowed the Barons to motor through the back half of the opening period in dynamic form. After one, the score would be 0-0, but both teams had double-digit shots, and only one penalty a piece. The real excitement began in the second.
Indeed, the Rampage would put the Barons into a hole quickly. Casey Wellman and Jared Gomes scored their fifth and sixth goals of the season, both at even strength, and both happening with OKC in precarious positions. Bad line changes, poor defensive execution, maybe some out of position goaltending all pointed to a dominate second period by the Rampage. But somehow the home team managed to notch fifteen more shots to the overall total, and get a late period Teemu Hartikainen swatted goal that was reviewed and ruled a 19:59 tally. The Barons were down after two, but instead of digging out of a two goal deficit they inched just a bit closer. Second period over, Rampage on top 2-1.
The third period was full throttle by OKC, and the familiar NHL forwards that we’ve come to love for minor league reasons. Taylor Hall, in particular, seemed laser focused on driving shots on the net, as he did the night before against Texas. He’d end the night with ten shots total with linemates Jordan Eberle and Mark Arcobello owning nine and six like it was just another day at the office. And it was Arcobello that would notch the tying goal in the opening five minutes of the third period off a rebounded shot that came post-howitzer via Hall. The final frame would end with some theatrics as the Rampage shot themselves in the hoof when Eric Selleck was whistled for a double high-stick with the clock reading 15:36. Thus giving OKC four minutes of power play time to decide the game. But then things got a little more awkward as Cobly Robak gets a high stick penalty of his own two minutes into his teams kill, and the Barons get a 5 on 3 situation to end the game. But Markstrom came up big, and the Rampage made good on some penalty kill angles to keep the Barons off the scoreboard. The game would head to OT.
The extra frame was tame, each team had a shot, and the game would head towards a shootout, which traditionally hasn’t favored the Oklahoma City Barons.
Magnus Paajarvi scored off a nifty/shifty move on Markstrom. Jordan Eberle scored a shootout goal of his own on a maneuver that seems illegal in 50 states (but apparently fully legal in all provinces).
On the other end, Olivier Roy would stop four out of the five skaters that the Rampage sauntered onto the ice for the shootout. His positioning and confidence was spot on, and he helped his team earn a key South Division victory with a 3-2 shootout win.
Primary scoring is, well, primary. And those guys took a ton of shots. 25 shots for the top line, and nine from the second line accounts for 75% of the team shots. Yowza. But winning is winning, and for now it’s all about the high end guns. But for those wondering how this team handles the loss of those guys, I say let’s cross that bridge when we get there. Perhaps they surprise. But the timing might cause some heartburn.
Olivier Roy needed this one bad, and he didn’t look too rusty despite his oft benched ways. Perhaps this gives him some confidence as we move into the new year.
Tanner House, a man among boys in the face off circle tonight, continues to be an integral part of the Barons grindcore. He’s a player. And his absence was felt when he was recovering from a concussion I would, however, like to see him beef up the Barons penalty kill as he did last season. And I think that after tonight, the Barons start to trend towards betterment in this area. He’ll be a big reason why, there’s no doubt.
Erick Lizon, yes he’s still around, and yes he’s still doing things we thought he’d do. With two AHL Barons games under his belt, he’s still not fought a solitary man. But he did lay a big hit on a Rampage player tonight, that ultimately gave him a few minutes in the box for hitting from behind, but it was his trip to the penalty box that was most memorable. He did the chicken wing strut in the general direction of a Rampage player. And I instantly went back to screaming LET’S GO BLAZERS. Felt weird and right at the same time.
Oklahoma City gets a one day break before playing a 6:00pm New Year’s Eve game in OKC against the Texas Stars, followed by a New Year’s Day game in Houston. Happy New Year, indeed.