By Jim Byers, on 01/13/2012

Rockford IceHogs (13-20-1-3) at Oklahoma City Barons (23-10-1-3
 Barons Game 38  |  Home Game 17 |  AHL Game 556
Jan. 13, 2012, 7 pm CST  | Cox Convention Center, Oklahoma City, OK
Broadcast: KXY 96.1 FM

TONIGHT: The Barons open a set of 3 straight home games with the third of four meetings with the Rockford IceHogs (Chicago Blackhawks). OKC defeated Rockford in both games at BMO Harris Bank Center this season, 5-4 on Nov. 16 and 3-1 on Nov. 26. In 1 1/2 seasons in the AHL, OKC is 7-1-0-0 against Rockford, with the Hogs’ lone win at the Cox Center on Jan. 2, 2011 by a 6-5 final. The Barons are atop the West Division with 50 points, one more than Houston and Abbotsford. Rockford is fifth in the Midwest with 30 points, 11 back of Peoria.

OFF THE TOP: The Barons return home after going 2-2-0-0 on the road to open the 2012 portion of the schedule. The Barons enter tonight’s game having lost two straight, just their second set of back-to-back regulation losses this season. The Barons and Abbotsford Heat share the AHL’s lowest average of goals allowed per game at 2.35, as each club has allowed 87 goals in 37 games. OKC has standing points in 10 of its last 14, going 7-4-1-2 in that span. OKC in winless in its last three at home, going 0-1-1-1 between Christmas and New Years at the Cox Center.

WHERE THEY RANK: OKC has slipped to second in the AHL in points with 50, trailing only Hershey’s 53. The Barons share the league high with 23 wins and are tops in the Western Conference in point percentage at .676, which is third in the league behind Hershey (.697) and St. John’s (.681).

FREQUENT FLYERS: Starting Jan. 1, OKC has had 15 player transactions. It took more than a month, from the season opener until Nov., 18, before the Barons reached move No. 15 for the season. Most recently, Josh Green was returned by Edmonton on Sunday, only to be recalled yesterday without seeing action for the Barons because of an illness to the recently-recalled Ryan O’Marra. Milan Kytnar was an emergency recall from ECHL Stockton to Edmonton on Wednesday and made his NHL debut that night before being loaned to the Barons yesterday. Teemu Hartikainen is due to make his Barons return tonight after being loaned by Edmonton on Sunday. Sean Erickson was released from a PTO on Monday. Magnus Paajarvi has returned to Edmonton. Gilbert Brule was claimed on re-entry waivers by Phoenix after the Oilers attempted to recall him on Monday.

CLOSE SHAVES: The Barons lead the AHL in 1-goal games with 24, out of 37 games played. OKC is 14-6-1-3 in 1-goal finals. Nine of OKC’s last 12 games have been decided by 1 goal (5-4-1-2 in that span) and 19 of the last 20 have come down to 1 goal or 1 plus an empty-netter. The Barons are 11-6-1-2 in their last 20.

HALF-TIME: Tonight marks the half-way point of the Barons’ 76-game schedule. Last season, in an 80-game campaign, OKC entered game No. 38 with a record of 18-14-1-4.

UPPER ECHELON: Philippe Cornet is tied for sixth in the AHL with 17 goals. The leaders, Norfolk’s Cory Conacher and Syracuse’s Kyle Palmieri, have 21. Cornet is part of a three-way tie for the AHL lead in game-winning goals with five. Cornet leads all players currently in the AHL in shooting percentage at 31.5. Hunter Tremblay is tied for second in the league with 3 shorthanded goals. Yann Danis is second in goals against average at 2.14, tied for second in wins (15) and shutouts (3) and tied for fifth in save percentage (.924).

BOARDWALK BOUND: Barons coach Todd Nelson will direct the Western Conference squad for the 2012 AHL All-Star Class at Atlantic City Jan. 30 after OKC secured the best point percentage in the conference on Jan. 1. Barons goalie Yann Danis, winger Philippe Cornet and defenseman Alex Plante were named on Wednesday to represent the Western Conference.

Last 5 games:
Date        Opp.       Result     OKC Goalie (GA,SV)            Opp. Goalie           Attn.
Dec. 31      SA               L, 3-4        LeNeveu (4, 13)                              Markstrom (3, 28)       4,859
Jan. 1        @ Hou        W, 6-0      Danis (0, 23)                                     Kuemper (6, 23)         10,715
Jan. 4        @ LE           W, 3-2      Danis (2, 20)                                     Cann (3, 33)                 4,247
Jan. 6        @ Tor         L, 0-2       Danis (1, EN, 14)                              Rynnas (0, 24)             3,117
Jan. 8        @ Ham       L, 1-3       LeNeveu (2, EN, 26)                        Mayer (1, 35)                3,830

Next 5 games (all times Central):
Date        Opp.                    Site                         Time       Broadcast
Jan. 14        Abbotsford                 Cox Center                     7:00           KXY 96.1 FM
Jan. 15        Abbotsford                Cox Center                      4:00           KXY 96.1 FM
Jan. 19        @ Rochester            Blue Cross Arena          6:05           KXY 96.1 FM
Jan. 20        @ Rochester            Blue Cross Arena          6:35            KXY 96.1 FM
Jan. 21        @ Lake Erie             Quicken Loans Arena   6:30           KXY 96.1 FM                     

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