The way the Oklahoma City Barons are rolling, head coach Todd Nelson would prefer to skip the break for the American Hockey League All-Star Game and keep playing.
The Barons won their sixth straight game Saturday night with a 3-1 victory over the Texas Stars before 5,606 fans at the Cox Convention Center, the third largest home crowd this season. Oklahoma City heads into the All-Star break with the best record in the AHL at 29-11-2-3.
It is the second six-game winning streak for the Barons, matching a six-game run from Oct. 29 to Nov. 11, but Nelson said the Barons are playing their best hockey of the season right now.
“We are playing a better team game,” he said. “The guys are executing the game plan.”
Barons' winger Ryan Keller agrees.
“We are playing more of a sound game,” he said. “Sometimes we were kind of greasing out wins, which is never a bad way to win, but we were just kind of finding ways to win earlier in the year. Now I think we are controlling more of the game.”
That was evident Saturday night as the Barons outshot the Stars 45-23.
“If you throw the puck at the net, good things will happen,” Keller said.
Nelson said the shot discrepancy was indicative of the aggressive play all night by the Barons.
“That is a job well done,” Nelson said. “I was happy with our zone plays. The guys were putting pucks on net. They were making the goalie work.”
The Barons scored first in the game on a power-play goal from defenseman Dylan Yeo 1:39 into the second period.
“It was lucky to squeeze through,” Yeo said. “I had a good screen by Josh Green in front. It just trickled in”
Keller followed with a goal 36 seconds into the third period for a 2-0 Oklahoma City lead.
The Stars scored 9:56 into the third period, but the Barons sealed the victory on an empty-net goal by Hunter Tremblay with 13 seconds left in the game.
“Six in a row is not easy to do in this league,” said Keller, one of four Barons who will be playing in Monday night's All-Star Game in Atlantic City, N.J. “To be able to go on a little bit of a break here riding high is always nice.
“We are where we want to be in the standings but at the same time there is a lot of season left and lot of work, but we feel good about ourselves right now.”