By Josh Evans, OKC Barons on 12/31/2011

San Antonio Rampage (14-15-2-0) at Oklahoma City Barons (21-7-1-3)
 Barons Game 33  |  Home Game 17 |  AHL Game 487
Dec. 31, 2011, 7 pm CST  | Cox Convention Center, Oklahoma City, OK
Broadcast: KXY 96.1 FM

TONIGHT: The Barons wrap up 2011 with a New Year’s Eve meeting with the San Antonio Rampage (Florida Panthers). OKC won the first 3 matchups with the Rampage before San Antonio prevailed 2-1 in the most recent meeting Dec. 3 at AT&T Center. The Barons are tied with Abbotsford tied atop the West Division with 46 points. The Rampage dropped a home game 5-2 to Houston last night and are fourth in the West with 30 points. The teams met on New Year’s Eve last year, with the Barons winning in San Antonio 4-1 with the help of an Alex Giroux hat trick.

OFF THE TOP: OKC shares the AHL high in standing points with 46 with Abbotsford. The Heat, which have played one more game, beat Texas 2-1 last night to join the Barons atop the West Division.  With a standing point percentage of .719, the Barons are the only team above .700. The Barons’ two-game winless streak, featuring overtime and shootout losses to Rochester on Tuesday and Wednesday, matches their longest stretch without a victory this season. OKC also went two games without winning Oct. 22-28 and Nov. 12-13. The November stretch is the only pair of consecutive regulation losses for the Barons this season. OKC has played five straight games that have gone to OT or a shootout. The Barons have played three straight games with a 4-3 final score immediately after finishing with four straight 3-2 decisions.

TIGHT SHAVES: The Barons have played 32 games this season and a league-high 22 have been decided by one goal. OKC is 13-5-1-3 in one-goal games. The Barons have played seven straight one-goal contests, going 3-1-1-2 in that time. OKC has played 15 straight decided by one goal or one-plus an empty-net tally, going 9-3-1-2 in those games. Twenty-two of OKC’s last 23 games, spanning all of November and December, have ended with a one-goal final or one-plus an empty-netter.

CHORNEY SITS: Defenseman Taylor Chorney was suspended three games by the AHL yesterday for an illegal check to the head of an opponent in Tuesday’s game vs. Rochester. Chorney missed Wednesday’s game because of illness. The suspension covers tonight, tomorrow at Houston and Wednesday at Lake Erie.

POINT PARADE: Wednesday’s 4-3 shootout loss featured Magnus Paajarvi’s first multi-point game as a Baron. The 20-year-old earned two assists. Ryan Keller matched his and the team’s season high with a two-goal game. Bryan Helmer matched the team high with three assists.

KNOCKING THE RUST OFF: Three Barons have returned from injury layoffs this week. Josh Green produced a goal on Tuesday after missing the previous five games, four because of suspension and one (Dec. 20) because of illness. Philippe Cornet also returned on Tuesday from a five-game injury absence, while  Teemu Hartikainen played for the first time on Tuesday since sustaining an upper body injury at Rockford Nov. 26. Hartikainen missed 10 games.

NETMINDING: David LeNeveu’s 2.07 goals-against average is third in the AHL behind Lake Erie’s Cedrick Desjardins (1.85) and Worcester’s Tyson Sexsmith (1.85). LeNeveu is part of a three-way tie for fourth in save percentage at .927. Yann Danis is ninth in GAA (2.32) and third in wins (13).

BARONS AMONG AHL LEADERS: Philippe Cornet is tied for seventh in the AHL in goals with 15. All of Cornet’s goals came in October and November. He missed 5 games from Dec. 10-20 with an injury. The leader, Norfolk rookie Cory Conacher, has 19 goals.  Cornet and Ryan Keller are part of a large group tied for second in the AHL with four game-winning goals. Cornet remains No. 1 in shooting percentage at 34.1. Hunter Tremblay tops the league with three shorthanded goals.

Last 5 games:
Date      Opp.       Result     OKC Goalie (GA,SV)   Opp. Goalie             Attn.
Dec. 17  Houston   SOW, 3-2  Danis (2, 24)                   Kuemper (2, 22)         4,425
Dec. 18  @ Cha     SOL, 2-3   LeNeveu (2, 38)             Murphy (2, 21)           4,912
Dec. 20  @ Cha     OTW, 4-3  LeNeveu (3, 24)             Murphy (4, 22)           5,220
Dec. 27  Rch          OTL, 3-4   Danis (4, 19)                   MacIntyre (3, 27)        4,044
Dec. 28  Rch          SOL, 3-4   Danis, (3, 21)                  Leggio (3, 22)            3,090

Next 5 games (all times Central):
Date      Opp.            Site                                Time   Broadcast
Jan. 1     @ Houston   Toyota Center                 5:05     KXY 96.1 FM
Jan. 4     @ Lake Erie Quicken Loans Arena     6:00     1340 The Game
Jan. 6     @ Toronto    Ricoh Coliseum               6:00     KXY 96.1 FM
Jan. 8     @ Hamilton   Copps Coliseum              2:00     KXY 96.1 FM
Jan. 13   Rockford       Cox Center                      7:00     KXY 96.1 FM

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