OKC Barons: 'Bizarre' might best describe Barons' 2012-13 season

Barons were winners despite curveballs from NHL call-ups, cancer, and Mother Nature.
by Michael Baldwin Published: June 9, 2013
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photo - The Barons celebrate a first-period goal by Teemu Hartikainen (10) as Charlotte's Riley Nash (20) skates by during Game 1 of the AHL hockey playoff series between the Oklahoma City Barons and the Charlotte Checkers at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City, Friday, April 26, 2013. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
The Barons celebrate a first-period goal by Teemu Hartikainen (10) as Charlotte's Riley Nash (20) skates by during Game 1 of the AHL hockey playoff series between the Oklahoma City Barons and the Charlotte Checkers at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City, Friday, April 26, 2013. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

Edmonton moved its Triple-A affiliate to Oklahoma City three years ago. The Barons have made the playoffs all three seasons. But it's doubtful the Barons will have another season like 2012-13 even if the franchise is still going 20 years from now and wins a Calder Cup or two.

“It was a tough year, a very up-and-down emotional year,” said Barons coach Todd Nelson. “It's hard to put into words what we went through. For us to basically finish third in the league was a remarkable accomplishment.”

The season started with four young Edmonton Oilers stars playing in Oklahoma City. Still in their initial three-year NHL contracts, Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Justin Schultz and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins were allowed to play with the Barons during an NHL lockout that dragged on nearly four months.

“As far back as I can remember, this is one of the craziest seasons I've ever been a part of,” said team captain Josh Green, in his 16th pro season. “It felt like there were three seasons: pre-lockout, post-lockout and the playoff run we got on.”

Early in the season, rookie defenseman Brandon Davidson was diagnosed with cancer but returned three months later and played a key role during an extended playoff run.

Mother Nature even got involved. Heavy rain storms flooded the east side of the Cox Convention Center, which forced postponement of Game 4 of the Western Conference finals. Coach Todd Nelson joked it was his first hockey “rainout.”

“There were a lot of things we had to get through, including tornadoes,” said forward Anton Lander. “As a team we were mentally strong, which really helped us.”

A season full of twists and turns didn't end until the 93rd game when Grand Rapids scored with 6:12 left to edge the Barons 5-4 in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals.

“This is the best time of the year when you go deep into the playoffs, playing in big games,” Lander said. “Those are the type of things you dream about when you're a young kid. It's a huge experience. You learn from it.”


by Michael Baldwin
Reporter
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
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