BARONS WEEK IN REVIEW: SEPT. 30 - OCTOBER 6
By Jim Byers,
Recap of Week 1, Oct. 4-5 (2 games, 0-2-0-0)
Season record: 0-2-0-0, 5th, West Division, -4 pts.; T-10th, Western Conference
• THE WEEK PAST: The Barons opened the 2013-14 season on Friday and Saturday with a pair of 3-2 losses at home to the Charlotte Checkers. OKC never led in either game, although the Barons rallied from a 2-goal deficit on Friday to tie the score in the third period. Despite advancing to the Conference Finals the last 2 years and winning 40 or more games in each of the past 3 campaigns, the Barons are 0-4 in season openers since joining the American Hockey League. Defenseman Philip Larsen and center Ryan Martindale each tallied a goal and an assist to pace the Barons in scoring for the first 2 games. All-time in the regular season, the Barons are 7-9-1-1 against the Checkers, 2-7-1-0 at home and 5-2-0-1 at Time Warner Cable Arena. Including last spring’s opening-round, Calder Cup playoff series, OKC is 3-8-1-0 against the Checkers at the Cox Center and 7-3-0-1 at Charlotte. The Barons won 2 out of 3 in Charlotte to take that best-of-5 series, including Games 4 and 5 when facing elimination. The West Division rivals will meet 12 times this season, but not again until Jan. 10-11.
• THE WEEK AHEAD: The Barons take to the road to serve as the first opponent for the Iowa Wild this Saturday and Sunday as the AHL returns to Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines for the first time since 2009. The Wild, formerly the Houston Aeros, will make their season and home debuts on Saturday at 7:05 pm CDT before facing the Barons again on Sunday at 4:05. Both games will air live on KXY 96.1 FM and be available via okcbarons.com and the subscription video service at AHLLive.com. The Barons and Wild meet 4 times this season at opposite ends of the schedule. They’ll next meet in their final 2 regular season games, April 18-19 at the Cox Center.
• DAVIDSON RECALLED: The Edmonton Oilers recalled defenseman Brandon Davidson from the Barons on Monday morning (Oct. 7) for his first NHL stint. The second-year pro was honored with the AHL’s Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award last season after he underwent treatment for testicular cancer in early November, yet returned to play a key role with the Barons later in the season. The award is voted upon by coaches, players and media members around the AHL and honors the player best exemplifying the qualities demonstrated by Fred Hunt: sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey. Mr. Hunt served as a player, General Manager and Governor for the Buffalo Bisons, earning 5 Calder Cup championships with Buffalo and a sixth as GM with the Cincinnati Swords.
• ROSTER RAMBLINGS: OKC’s official opening-day roster consisted of 27 players: 16 forwards, 9 defensemen and 2 goaltenders. Eleven players on the opening roster played at least 1 game for the Barons last season. Ryan Hamilton, a 30-goal scorer for the Toronto Marlies last season, was on the opening-day roster, but was recalled by Edmonton a couple hours before game time on Friday. The Barons have one player over 30 years of age, Derek Nesbitt, 31.
• WELCOME BACK: Linus Omark is back with the Barons after a season away from the Edmonton Oilers’ organization in 2012-13. Omark, a Baron for part of the team’s first 2 seasons, led EV Zug of the Swiss League in scoring last season with 69 points in 48 games. He signed a one-year contract with Edmonton in August to return to the organization that drafted him in the fourth round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. Omark still holds the Barons’ record for goals in a game with 5, accomplished against the Toronto Marlies on Nov. 7, 2010. That remains the AHL’s most recent 5-goal game by an individual. Entering this week, Omark has 20 goals and 27 assists for 47 points in 48 career games in an OKC uniform.
• BEHIND THE BENCH: Todd Nelson returns for his fourth season as OKC’s head coach. The 44-year-old native of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, has a record of 125-86-23 behind the Barons’ bench, a .583 point percentage. Assistant coaches Gerry Fleming and Rocky Thompson each return for their fourth seasons in OKC, as does equipment manager Matt Mitchell. Back for their second seasons are assistant equipment manager Al Oman and strength and conditioning coach Kevin Hanlon. Josh Bennett begins his first season as OKC’s athletic trainer after working most recently for the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks.
• ODDS AND ENDS: The Barons out-shot Charlotte in Friday’s season opener 34-32, but were out-shot by the Checkers on Saturday 26-24. Fourteen of 18 OKC skaters registered a shot on Friday, while 16 of 18 Barons had at least 1 shot on Saturday. Tyler Pitlick scored his first goal of the season on Saturday on a shorthanded breakaway. It was the first shorthanded tally of Pitlick’s 108-game professional career spanning the past 2-plus seasons. Seven Barons made their professional debuts over the weekend: David Musil, Martin Gernat, Oscar Klefbom, Travis Ewanyk, Andrew Miller, Kale Kessy and Nicholas Tremblay.
This week’s games (times listed as Central)
Date Opponent Time Arena Radio
Oct. 12 Iowa 7:05 pm Wells Fargo Arena KXY 96.1 FM
Oct. 13 Iowa 4:05 pm Wells Fargo Arena KXY 96.1 FM
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