Saturday, December 29, 2012

Hall picks up two more points in Barons shootout victory

Two more points from Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall paced the Oklahoma City Barons to their third consecutive victory, as they edged the San Antonio Rampage 3-2, in a shootout. Teemu Hartikainen scored his tenth of the season and Olivier Roy stopped thirty-two shots in a rare start, in leading the Barons to the crucial victory.

After jumping out to an early lead against the Texas Stars on Thursday night, Oklahoma City were unable to get one by Florida Panthers prospect Jaocb Markstrom for what was nearly a full forty minutes of action. Two early second period markers from  Casey Wellman and Jared Gomes put the Rampage up a pair but a last second power play goal from Hartikainen, gave OKC life heading into period three.

A great individual rush from Hall would get the Barons back on level terms, as the talented Edmonton Oilers winger took on a pair of San Antonio defenders, before having his initial attempt stopped by Markstrom. Unfortunately for the Rampage netminder, he could not control the rebound and left a loose puck for the taking...something Mark Arcobello wasted little time doing.

The goal gives the Barons centre nine for the season, as he continues making the most of seeing regular duty with one or both of Eberle and Hall.

Oklahoma had a glorious opportunity to pull out the win in regulation time, as they were handed a four minute power play, that included a full two-minutes on a five-on-three, but Markstrom was flat out brilliant. Turning aside one wave after another and earning his side a chance at winning it overtime.

San Antonio did little with a full two minute power play in the early going, after Arcobello was whistled down for tripping in the opening seconds of overtime. Hall would have the best chance in OT but Markstrom would come up large yet again, stoning the Barons winger on clear cut  breakaway and forcing this one to a shootout.

Magnus Paajarvi gave Oklahoma City the early advantage, beating the Rampage tender with a quick shot to the glove side, on the Barons opening attempt. After stopping both Jon Sim and Jon Rheault, Roy had no answer for James Wright, who leveled things at one, on an almost carbon-copy of Paajarvi's icebreaker.

Eberle would put OKC out in front for good, freezing Markstrom with a nifty little move, before depositing the winner into the open cage. Roy did the rest, stopping the final two shooters and push the Barons latest winning streak to three.

For just the fifth time this season, defenceman Justin Schultz was held off the scoresheet and was subsequently passed by his teammate, as the AHL's leading scorer. Eberle now leads all American Hockey League skaters in both goals (20) and points (44) but still remains behind Schultz and his league leading total of twenty-six assists.  

With another two point effort under his belt, Hall continues to climb up the scoring chart, as he currently sits in a tie for eighth, with twenty-nine points. The former first overall selection has moved to within just four points of Syracuse Crunch forward Tyler Johnson, for third in league scoring.

Meaning it will be just a matter when, not if, the Barons will have the top three scorers in the AHL. That is of course, barring some sort of resolution to the NHL Lockout.

The win moves Oklahoma City to 16-10-1-3 on the year and into a tie for second spot in the South Division with the Houston Aeros, four points back of the Western Conference leading Charlotte Checkers. In what has been a rather tight race for much of the season, the West has become that much closer of late, as the thirteenth placed Peoria Rivermen sit just ten points back of top spot.

The Barons will bring the calendar year to an end on New Year's Eve, as they travel to Texas to take on the Stars for the fourth time in just over a week and half.

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