After the Barons dropped back-to-back shootout losses last weekend at Charlotte, a team they’re battling for a playoff spot, coach Todd Nelson lit into his players.
Nelson’s challenge paid immediate dividends when the Barons notched a 5-4 American Hockey League shootout win over Hamilton on Wednesday night at the Cox Convention Center.
“After the second shootout loss in Charlotte, I was upset,” Nelson said. “We’re throwing away (standings) points by losing all these shootouts. Usually after a shootout loss there’s not much to be said, but I got really (ticked) at the guys.
“I told them they had to smarten up. I instructed them to work on one move and perfect it. (Tuesday) in practice they were doing shootouts quite a bit. I’m just happy we got this win. This was a big two points.”
Just below the cutoff line for one of eight Western Conference berths, the Barons entered Wednesday’s game 1-9 in shootouts.
They’re now 2-9.
Alex Lavoie, a recent addition to the roster, tied the shootout as OKC’s fifth and final shooter. The game wasn’t decided until both teams used their seventh skater. C.J. Stretch’s goal proved to be the difference.
“Bachs (goalie Richard Bachman) was kicking their shots away for us,” Stretch said. “Coach’s advice was to master one move. I know it helped me tonight.”
The only reason he had a chance to win it was Lavoie, OKC’s fifth skater, pushed the puck past Hamilton goaltender Robert Mayer after Mayer had stuffed the Barons’ first four shootout skaters.
“That was a pressure situation for him, and he handled it well,” Nelson said of Stretch. “I don’t know how he squeaked it in, but he got the job done and is now 2-for-3 in shootouts. I’m trying to find a hot hand.”
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