Monday, December 10, 2012

Barons come up empty in San Antonio

Apparently having a full week off did little to shake up the struggling Oklahoma City Barons. Back-to-back one goal losses to the San Antonio Rampage on Saturday night Sunday afternoon, brought the club's lengthy seven game road swing to a disappointing end.  After starting the trek off with a perfect 3-0 run, four consecutive defeats left the Barons with a 3-3-0-1 mark for the trip.

Edmonton Oilers forward Jordan Eberle continued to carry the hot-hand for OKC, scoring twice and adding a helper over the two game set. However, defenceman Justin Schultz and Taylor Hall were not so lucky, as the Oilers two young stars cooled off and were held to a point a piece over the weekend.

Saturday night's opener marked one of the rare occasions that Oklahoma City's top line did not lead the way upfront but the trio of Teemu Hartikainen, Anton Lander and Magnus Paajarvi more than made up for it. The three combined for five points and scored two of the Barons three goals on the night.

Unfortunately, an ill advised giveaway from the usually sure handed Martin Marincin, led to Scott Timmins' game-winner...with all of 21.1 seconds left in regulation. Not exactly the start head coach Todd Nelson was hoping for, as his club stretched their losing streak to three.

Despite the loss, the Barons had a chance to bounce back from the heart-breaking defeat with a solid effort on Sunday afternoon, to  help salvage the weekend. Eberle got them off to a great start, scoring his fourteenth of the season on a nifty little spin-o-rama backhander, giving his side the all important icebreaker.

That lead would stand until early in the second, when the Rampage would mount their comeback. Goals from Jason DeSanis and Greg Rallo in the opening nine minutes of period two, turned a one goal deficit into a lead for the home side....though it would be short-lived.

After finally making his way back into the lineup for Saturday night's opener, Josh Green made his presence felt in the return engagement, springing Hartikainen for a breakaway with the Barons on a four-on-three man advantage. The feisty Finn made no mistake, beating Jacob Markstrom to even things up at two.

San Antonio would restore their lead before the period was out, as James Wright was left all alone in the slot and easily beat Yann Danis with a perfectly placed shot, making it 3-2 after forty minutes.

That would be as close as the Barons would come, as they fall to 1-3 against the Rampage this season. After climbing to within two points of the South Division leading Charlotte Checkers on November 25th, they haven't won a game since and now find themselves in fourth place in the division. That being said, they remain just three points back of the Checkers for top spot, having played two fewer games.

The club was without the services of centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for the entire weekend, as the youngster was back in Edmonton have his shoulder's checked out. Unfortunately, it will be a scenario coach Nelson and his staff will have to get used to, as RNH announced on Saturday that he will be taking part in the 2013 World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia.

While it is a tough break for the Barons to lose their number one centre, it will be a huge plus for Team Canada heading into the championship. With the Nuge out of the equation, look for one of Mark Arcobello (who played on the top line against San Antonio), Green or Lander to possibly see time on line with Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall. Though as things currently sit, the most logical choice would appear to be giving the veteran a look between the two snipers.

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