by Lisa McRitchie on 02/10/12 at 05:45 AM ET
Oklahoma City Barons shutout Abbotsford Heat 4-0
The months of anticipation led to a fairly lacklustre game Thursday night between the Abbotsford Heat and the Oklahoma City Barons. Of course if you were an Oilers or Barons fan, you left the Saddledome with an ear to ear grin. After all, the Oilers have so seldom won in this building, that even an AHL level victory is momentous.
The first goal of the game felt like it would never come, but finally with 7.5 minutes remaining in the second period Mark Arcobello scored a dirty goal on Heat goaltender Henrik Karlsson. Arcobello is an undrafted RW signed to a two year entry level contact last April, and helping him out was Oilers’ 2010 second round pick Curtis Hamilton.
With only 27.9 seconds left in the second period it was Josh Green who scored the Barons second goal on a tape to skate pass from Linus Omark. If there was one thing that stood out in this game, it was that the passing was just not good enough. It wasn’t that they were intercepted, but often passes missed their targets entirely.
After taking a two goal lead, and the 15 minute intermission to collect themselves, the Barons came out to finish the game and stifle any life that the Heat may have had.
Omark absolutely sniped in the third goal of the game, beating netminder Henrik Karlsson. Once again prospect Taylor Chorney made a completed pass to Omark who carried the puck through the offensive zone without any spins or fanfare shot the puck past Karlsson glove side.
The final Barons goal came from another Oilers signing, Hunter Tremblay. And with that, the Heat knew the game was over.
There were two fights through this 60 minute battle of Alberta, AHL style. The first was between Chris VandeVelde and Guilliaume Desbians and carried with it extra penalties for boarding and roughing respectively. But it was the second fight that caused more of a stir and will have lasting effects.
The second fight was between Barons’ defenceman Alex Plante and Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond. Plante didn’t need to fight Letourneau-Leblond and could have and perhaps should have walked away. Instead Plante stuck with it and stood his ground. No issues with that. The problem came when Plante had lost his footing and fell to the ice. Letourneau-Leblond punched defenceless Plante, who was without a helmet causing obvious injury to the defenceman who has just come off of a concussion injury. Letourneau-Leblond was assessed a further misconduct for continuing altercation for what was an extremely dangerous move.
Colten Teubert is a gritty and hard hitting defenceman who had no trouble commenting on the hit “When you get punched in the face like that, it’s a pretty cheap play. I think when the game is out of hand like that you have to have a little more class. That’s that guy’s role and he has to play his game.”
The Barons head coach Todd Nelson also had thoughts on the hit but wasn’t sure that it was a dirty fight. Instead, Nelson suggested “That’s something that maybe you can ask some of our tough guys about, I was never much of a tough guy when I played.”
But, dirty fight or not, Plante should be ok but it is yet to be determined what the damage was. “I think that two of the last punches probably stunned him more than anything.” Nelson spoke reassuringly and added “I saw him, he’s fine. We’ll have to say what the doctors and the trainers say.”
The Barons got the results they were looking for, but overall, the game wasn’t exactly what Nelson had hoped for. “I like the result, but I think that we could be a much better hockey team.
“We’re not even close to the way that we were playing before the break. But that’s okay because I think that the guys are going to benefit from the time off as we move down the schedule and also in the playoffs.”
The biggest concern for Nelson was of course his team’s passing abilities. Nelson called the game “ragged” and actually “Very ragged. I wasn’t very happy, I’m still not happy.” But all he can do is work harder with his team during their next game, this one is in the books already.
Nelson did credit the Heat for their outstanding and ferocious start to the game. The Barons struggled to earn shots in the first frame. “Abbotsford came out strong in the half of the game and then we kind of got the ball rolling by scoring a couple of goals in the second.
“That goal late in the second really took the wind out of their sails but the execution was horrible. I wasn’t very happy after the first two periods. The third period got better, but we’re a lot better hockey team than that.”
This was Linus Omark’s first game back after three months off. Omark had started the season with the Oilers, sitting mainly in the pressbox before being sent down to OKC. Omark only played 7 games before breaking an ankle to the point where it would require surgery. Omark took the time to heal but there is always a struggle to find your game again.
“The ankle is good, it’s not game ready but I haven’t been in a game in a while.” Said Omark following the game. It was interesting to hear him say that it wasn’t game ready. After all, he had just played a full 60 minutes. He had even earned a goal and an assist for a total of 9 points in 8 games.
“It felt good for the last and the two first periods but I haven’t played a game for a while in a while.” Omark elaborated. “The more I played, the more I came into the game.”
“Every goal is nice, but it was a nice feeling to score when I’ve been out that long. I hope that I can continue to score.”
Coach Nelson was satisfied with Omark’s first game back, “He had a goal and an assist here tonight and I think that he is only going to get better as we go on here.”
This game was not their best outing for either team, but it was an excellent opportunity to showcase a different level of hockey in a hockey city. The Saddledome crowd was far from capacity, but those that missed the Flames game scheduled for the same time were treated to a glimpse of some of the players in the system. For Oilers fans, the cupboard looks quite full indeed.
Both teams will now travel to Abbotsford to play a second game on Saturday. Expect the emotions to carry over, especially if Plante is unable to play.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
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