North American Hockey WIth Friends From The Other Side of the Globe

The game story for the OKC Barons’ victory is below…. but the LIFE story is in the group of friends, media professionals visiting from Dhaka, Bangladesh, who attended their first professional ice hockey game tonight at Cox Convention Center. Not only are these the most generous, thoughtful and real people I have come to know, they were equally enthusiastic, energetic and at home at the hockey rink as any of the Okies in attendance.

Thanks to all the folks who made it possible, including my friend Gary Desjardins.

I’ll link some more photos in the future once they send them to me, but for now there they are – right in the middle of the crowd.

barons game

Here’s the press release from the game.


OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma City Barons withstood a third period onslaught to down the Abbotsford Heat, 4-3, Friday evening at the Cox Convention Center. The Heat out-shot the Barons 22-4 in the third period, 44-28 for the game, but solid goaltending from Richard Bachman and two goals from Linus Omark led to the Barons’ second home ice victory of the year. Oklahoma City moves to 3-3-0-0 on the year, while the Heat fell to 2-2-0-1.

Oklahoma City took a 1-0 lead at 4:03 of the first period when Omark’s backhander got past Abbotsford goaltender Reto Berra. Tyler Pitlick and Anton Lander earned the assists on Omark’s first goal.

Oklahoma City had its first of three power play opportunities at 15:33 when the Heat were called for too many men on the ice. Philip Larsen had a shot hit off the post with the man advantage but a pass from Larsen to Pitlick resulted in Omark’s second goal of the game at 16:30. The power play goal gave Oklahoma City a 2-0 lead as the teams were tied with 10 shots apiece at the end of the second.

Oklahoma City went back on the power play 14 seconds into the second period as Carter Bancks was called for high-sticking. On the ensuing power play, Omark and Lander added more points on Derek Nesbitt’s third goal of the year. The Barons extended the lead to 4-0 at 4:32 when Lander found the back of the net for his second of the year.

Bachman’s bid for the shutout ended at 7:45 when Ben Hanowski scored to cut the Oklahoma City lead to 4-1. The Barons led 24-22 in shots on goal after two periods of play.

Abbotsford brought the pressure in the third period as the Heat managed to out-shoot the Barons 22-4 in the period. Roman Horak scored on the Heat’s first power play of the night to cut the lead in half, and Brett Olson trimmed the lead to 4-3 at 7:36.

Bachman and the Barons played tough defense for the remainder of the game en route to the 4-3 win. Omark earned the game’s first star honors, while Lander and Bachman were named the second and third stars, respectively.

The two teams faceoff again Saturday evening at 7 p.m. CT at the Cox Convention Center. One lucky Barons fan will drive away in a 2013 Dodge Avenger during the Drive Away Every Saturday promotion.


Barons Stars AHL Hockey

For the second straight game the Oklahoma City Barons (2-3-0-0) relied on their power play late, as Linus Omark wristed the game winner over the glove of Cristopher Nilstorp early in the first extra period for a 2-1 OT win. The game winner was technically an even-strength goal as a penalty had just expired.

Richard Bachman turned aside 22 shots in earning his first win of the season. The Barons outshot the Stars 16-3 in the third period but failed to score until the extra period with Omark’s first goal of the season.

OKC hosts a pair of games Friday and Saturday night at Cox Convention Center against the Abbotsford Heat, AHL affiliate of the Calgary Flames.

Oklahoma City had earlier failed to cash in on a power play opportunity at 6:01 of the third. The Barons continue to struggle at even strength, outscored 9-4 through the first five games with the penalty boxes empty.

After killing off their 4th penalty through the first 50 minutes, the Barons seemed to find some energy, testing Nilstorp who made back to back stick side saves, including one on a point-blank rebound try by Matthew Ford.

The Texas Stars drew even at 4:32 of the third period when Colton Sceviour shoveled home a loose puck on the doorstep after his backhander hit the post and couldn’t be cleared by a sluggish OKC defense.

The Barons had a good chance in deep about a minute into the third, as Taylor Fedun found a closing Anton Lander, who’s wrist we was deflected top shelf-high by the shoulder of goalie Cristopher Nilstorp.

2nd Period Intermission
Just :50 in to the second period Andrew Miller’s power play goal gave the Barons a lead on home ice for the first time this season, 1-0 over visiting Texas. C.J. Stretch and Joel Broda assisted. It was Miller’s first goal of the season.

A fast-paced exchange of 3 on 2 rushes in the period produced a pair of shots on goal for each team in less than a minute, as well as a sprawling defensive shot block by big left-winger Ben Eager.

Each goalie, Richard Bachman for the OKC Barons and Cristopher Nilstorp of the Texas Stars, turned aside 10 second period shots.

1st Period
The Stars sent a scare through the Cox Convention Center crowd with a 3 on 2 shorthanded break in the closing seconds, but Richard Bachman turned aside the 10th Texas shot of a scoreless first period. The OKC Barons have yet to score an opening period goal this season. Todd Nelson’s Barons put 9 shots on goal in the 1st period.

Hockey Fans In OKC Still Have Their Barons To Cheer For With Their Fourth Straight Win

I know it warmed up today… and baseball is here. But there’s a pretty dang good hockey team in town. The OKC Barons are worth checking out – as you know about half of their guys have spent time in the NHL – and the other half are a skate stride away. They won again tonight… below is the press release from the Barons...

A last-minute game-winner by Tanner House capped off three straight goals by the Oklahoma City Barons as they earned their fourth straight win by defeating the Texas Stars 3-2 at the Cedar Park Center in Cedar Park, Texas. Yann Danis improved to 21-14-5 by stopping 26 shots in the win. Jack Campbell made 26 saves as well in the game, but gets the loss to fall to 16-12-4 on the season.

Texas began the first period by keeping the Barons pinned in their own zone. Brett Ritchie opened the scoring for the Stars at 2:06, scoring on a rebound with the backhand. Mike Commodore made it a 2-0 game a minute later on a 4-on-2 Texas rush, scoring at the 3:07 mark. Texas outshot the Barons 9-0 through the first nine minutes of the period, but the Barons rebounded to outshoot the Stars 6-4 the rest of the way for a 13-6 total in shots in favor of Texas.

A quiet second period began to pick up steam after the Barons were given a power-play chance at 12:06. Campbell made huge saves on chances by Teemu Hartikainen and Ryan Martindale to help the Stars kill the penalty. It was Curtis Hamilton at even strength however that brought the Barons to within one. Hamilton beat defenseman Kevin Connauton to the puck after a long lead pass by Nathan Deck. Hamilton buried it at 15:22 to make it 2-1.

The third period began with back-and-forth action. The feel for the Barons was much like the second period. A power-play chance at 13:08 for the Barons went down in the scoresheet as unsuccessful, but three seconds after the man-advantage expired, a pass from Mark Arcobello found Philippe Cornet and he scored to make it a 2-2 game at 15:11. As the clock wound down on regulation time, Chris Vandevelde gained the offensive zone with Tanner House. Vandevelde left the puck for house near the top of the left-wing circle. House’s shot dribbled past the glove of Campbell for the game-winner with 14.6 left in regulation time.

The Barons improve to 34-23-3-8 with 78 points among a log-jam in the Western Conference Standings. The league-leading Texas Stars fall to 39-18-5-6 on the season. Oklahoma City closes out the season series among the two teams with an 8-3-0-1 mark over the Stars.

Oklahoma City’s power play went 0-for-2 on the night, while the penalty kill saw no action in the game with no shorthanded situations against the Barons.

The win over Texas extends Oklahoma City’s unbeaten streak to six games, 5-0-0-1 during the streak to earn 11 of a possible 12 points.

Tomorrow, the Barons return home to face the Chicago Wolves at 7 p.m. The Barons are giving away TWO Ford Fiestas in their Drive Away Every Saturday promotion. The weekend concludes Sunday, April 7 against Chicago at 4 p.m. Following the game, the Barons invite fans to stay after the game to skate with members of the team. Skate rental is free with a ticket to the game. You can hear the game on the Barons’ flagship station, 96.1 KXY

When the NHL Lockout Ended

With the most recent work stoppage in pro sports coming to a close, I am reminded of the time I covered the NHL lockout ending back in the early 1990s. I was working at CNN as west coast correspondent, the greatest gig ever, and when the word came down the Kings took to the ice right away. We went to the Great Western Forum for practice and some interviews, but little did I know some players – bruiser Marty McSorley specifically – were none too happy with the media’s coverage of the lockout. It seems he felt as though all of us were referring to it as a “strike”, putting the blame on the players as opposed to the owners. I, of course, never did say such a thing, but Marty nearly knocked my block off. Ironically, the likes of Kelly Hrudey and Gretzky had to step in and save the day, although I’m sure my producer would have loved it if McSorley had whipped my butt. What you see at the link here is the story we did that day. Sadly, somehow, the fans and the sport of hockey have had three of these things now. I hope the fans enjoy the next ten years of labor peace.

OKC Becoming Winnersville?

The Thunder are rolling. OU softball is storming through the WCWS. The Barons had a banner hockey season. And the OKC Redhawks, top farm club of the much improved Houston Astros, are on a stretch that rivals any in the franchise’s history.

Might be a good time to plan a trip out to Bricktown and the old ballpark.

Here’s their latest press release:

Oklahoma City, Okla. – Mike Hessman homered two more times, including a seventh inning shot that proved the difference in the Oklahoma City RedHawks’ (35-23) 6-5 win over the Iowa Cubs (25-32) before 2,994 at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark Monday night.  The RedHawks have now won 12 straight at home.

 Hessman hit solo homers in the fourth and seventh, giving him five over his last two games. The five homers have come within the span of six at-bats and seven plate appearances.

 The Cubs took an early 1-0 lead in the first on an RBI single by Anthony Rizzo.  Ty Wright homered to lead off the fourth to make it 2-0.

 Jimmy Paredes and Hessman each left the yard in the fourth to tie the game.  Three straight singles followed Hessman’s home run, including an RBI single by Angel Sanchez to put the RedHawks in front, 3-2.

 Iowa scored three times in an eventful top of the sixth to seize the lead.  Matt Tolbert tied the game with a bloop RBI single, and the Cubs went in front on an errant throw during a rundown to score Blake Lalli.

Pitcher Chris Rusin followed with a sharp RBI single up the middle to make it a 5-3 game.  Rusin was later picked off second base, and with two on and one out, Luis Valbuena struck out and Brett Jackson was caught stealing third to end the inning.

Each of the first four RedHawks reached safely in the bottom of the inning to tie it, with Brandon Barnes and Sanchez each collecting RBI singles.  They loaded the bases with one out but could not score, keeping the game 5-5.

 With one away in the seventh, Hessman took the first pitch from Esmailin Caridad (0-3) nearly out of the stadium to put the RedHawks in front.

 The Cubs put the tying runner at second with two outs in the eighth, but Mickey Storey (3-2) got Valbuena to pop out to end the inning. 

 With closer Jose Valdez unavailable after pitching on four of the last five days, the RedHawks turned the game over to Juan Abreu in the ninth. Abreu retired the side in order, striking out Wright to end the game and earn his third save of the season as well as his first since April 9.



Barons rally, beat Checkers 3-2 in shootout

From release

Antti Tyrvainen tied the score with two minutes remaining in regulation and Josh Green scored the difference-maker in the seventh round of the shootout as the Barons beat the Charlotte Checkers 3-2 on Saturday at Time Warner Cable Arena.

Barons Checked At Charlotte 6-2

From Press Release
A.J. Jenks scored a pair of power play goals as the Charlotte Checkers opened a 5-0 lead through two periods on the way to a 6-2 win over the Oklahoma City Barons on Friday at Time Warner Cable Arena.

The Barons (34-14-2-3) see a five-game road winning streak halted in the first of a season-high six-game road swing. A rematch with Charlotte is set for 6 pm CST on Saturday.

The Checkers, 31-19-2-3, improved to 5-1-1-1 against the Barons with the finale of the season series on Saturday. Charlotte out-shot Oklahoma City 42-28, amassing the most shots against the Barons in a game this season.

David LeNeveu started and played the first 31 minutes, departing after Charlotte’s fourth goal. Olivier Roy entered for his AHL debut and allowed the final two goals. LeNeveu took the loss to fall to 13-7-2.

John Muse stopped 26 of 28 shots in improving to 10-3-1.

Charlotte took a 2-0 lead after one period on a wrap-around by Jenks at 13:58, followed by a Matthew Pistilli tip at 18:39. The Checkers added three goals in the second, with Brett Sutter converting a 2-on-1 at 8:21, followed by Jenks’ second on a deflection at 11:00 and Chris Terry’s point shot on a two-man advantage at the 11:55 mark, 14 seconds into the power play.

The Barons closed the gap with a wrap-around by Linus Omark at 1:39 of the third, followed by Chris VandeVelde’s rebound at 3:49 to make the score 5-2, but Justin Shugg put home a breakaway goal 21 seconds later to conclude the scoring.

The six goals allowed were the second-most against Oklahoma City this season, behind a 7-0 defeat against Texas on opening night.