By Jim Byers, on 01/31/2013

Charlotte Checkers (26-14-2-3) at Oklahoma City Barons (20-17-2-4)  

Barons Game 44  |  Home Game 23 |  AHL Game 637
Jan. 31, 2013, 7 pm CST  | Cox Convention Center, Oklahoma City, OK
Radio: KXY 96.1 FM
AHL Media Kit:
TONIGHT: The Barons and Charlotte Checkers (Carolina Hurricanes) play the first of back-to-back games at the Cox Center in Charlotte’s final visit of the regular season. The teams have traded sweeps in the previous 4 meetings this season, with the Barons winning at Charlotte Nov. 24-25 and the Checkers returning the favor at the Cox Center Jan. 11-12, the latter in OT. They’ll meet for the final time March 3-4 at Charlotte. The Checkers are 2nd in the South Division and Western Conference (behind Texas) with 57 points. OKC has 46 points, 9th in the conference.
OFF THE TOP: This is the first night of play around the AHL since the All-Star break. OKC begins a stretch of 4 straight home games over the next two weeks, as Grand Rapids makes its only regular-season visit next weekend on Feb. 8-9. This is the Barons’ third game of the season on a Thursday. OKC has a 5-4 win Dec. 27 over Texas and a 2-1 shootout loss Nov. 29 at Houston in the previous Thursday games. With a 3-7-1-1 mark so far in January, the Barons will undertake their first losing month since March 2011 and only the third losing month out of 18 in club history.
DOUBLE UP: This week begins a pattern where the Barons play 4 consecutive 2-game weeks, each time facing the same opponent back-to-back. After Charlotte visits this week and Grand Rapids is here Feb. 8-9, OKC travels to Cedar Park Feb. 15-16 to take on the Texas Stars. The Barons and Houston Aeros meet in a home-and-home set Feb. 22-23, with the first game in OKC and the rematch at the Toyota Center. February is OKC’s lightest full month of the season, as the Barons skate in 8 games. 
BARONS-CHECKERS: OKC is 5-5-1-1 against Charlotte in 2 seasons of head-to-head matchups. The teams did face each other in 2010-11, when Charlotte was in the Eastern Conference. At the Cox Center, OKC is 1-4-1-0 all-time against Charlotte, the lone win a 30-save shutout by Yann Danis 1-0 on Nov. 11, 2011. Gilbert Brule scored the game’s only goal off Justin Peters 3:44 into the contest.
ARCOBELLO HELPS WEST TO ALL-STAR WIN: Barons center Mark Arcobello, a starter for Monday’s 2013 Dunkin’ Donuts AHL All-Star Classic, recorded 3 assists in the Western Conference’s 7-6 win over the East in Providence, R.I. Arcobello’s third assist set up the winning goal by Toronto’s Ryan Hamilton with 11.2 seconds remaining in regulation, capping a hat trick for Hamilton.
SHOT SHEET: In 9 games since the departure to the NHL of (at the time) OKC’s top 3 scorers Jordan Eberle, Justin Schultz and Taylor Hall, the Barons have out-shot the opposition 338-261. In that span, the Barons have collected more shots in 6 of 9 games by a combined margin of 77 shots. Prior to the current run, OKC had been a -72 for the season in shots for and against. Entering tonight’s game the Barons are +5 in season shots, 1331-1326.
NEW IN NET: Goaltender Niko Hovinen has been assigned to the Barons after being claimed on waivers by the Edmonton Oilers Jan. 25 from Philadelphia. Hovinen, a 6-7, 200-pound native of Helsinki, Finland, has yet to play in the AHL. The 24-year-old has spent this season, his first in North America, with Trenton of the ECHL, going 4-6-3 with a 3.14 goals-against average and .889 save percentage. Hovinen has spent parts of 6 seasons in Finland’s top professional league, the SM-liiga.
CHEECHOO, CLARK SEE HOME ICE: NHL veterans Brett Clark and Jonathan Cheechoo made their Barons debuts last week, playing in all 3 games of the trip. Clark, with 681 games of NHL experience signed to an AHL contract Jan. 21, is in the AHL for the first time since the 2005-06 season. The 36-year-old defenseman notched an assist in each of the past 2 games, at Milwaukee and Rockford. Cheechoo, a 32-year-old right winger and former NHL All-Star with San Jose, has been in the AHL the past 2 seasons. He signed a Professional Tryout Contract (PTO) Jan. 20. Cheechoo, with 170 goals in 501 NHL games, recorded 2 assists in Saturday’s 4-3 win at Rockford.
Last 5 Games:
Date        Opp.     Result    OKC Goalie (GA,SV) Opp. Goalie               Attn. 
Jan. 18    SA         L, 2-4       Roy (3, EN, 21)             Markstrom (2, 46)         2,863
Jan. 19    SA         W, 2-1      Roy (1, 24)                   Markstrom (2, 34)         4,208
Jan. 23    @ GR    SOL, 4-5  Roy (4, 33)                   Mrazek (4, 33)              5,531
Jan. 25    @ Mil     L, 2-8       Roy (L) / Bunz              Smith (2, 44)                13,011
Jan. 26    @ Rfd    W, 4-3      Roy (3, 33)                   Hutton (4, 27)               4,388
Next 5 games (all times Central):
Date      Opp.                Site                            Time     Broadcast
Feb. 1    Charlotte          Cox Center                 7:00      KXY 96.1 FM
Feb. 8    Grand Rapids   Cox Center                 7:00      KXY 96.1 FM
Feb. 9    Grand Rapids   Cox Center                 7:00      KXY 96.1 FM
Feb. 15  Texas               Cedar Park Center      7:30      KXY 96.1 FM

Feb. 16  Texas               Cedar Park Center      7:00      KXY 96.1 FM    

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