OKC Barons getting hot at the right time

by Michael Baldwin Published: April 4, 2013
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photo - Oklahoma City's Tanner House (21) takes the puck past Charlotte's Marc-Andre Gragnani (5) during an AHL hockey game between the Charlotte Checkers and the Oklahoma City Barons at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City, Friday, Feb. 1, 2013. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City's Tanner House (21) takes the puck past Charlotte's Marc-Andre Gragnani (5) during an AHL hockey game between the Charlotte Checkers and the Oklahoma City Barons at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City, Friday, Feb. 1, 2013. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

The Oklahoma City Barons are getting hot at the right time.

The Barons, though, will have to remain hot to reach the playoffs for the third consecutive season.

Oklahoma City will play three games in three days, starting with a road game Friday night at Texas, capped by home games Saturday night and Sunday afternoon against the Chicago Wolves.

“We're playing our best hockey right now, but we've got to keep that going,” said center Chris VandeVelde. “I don't want to really compare the teams but it reminds me a lot of last year. We're winning simple things and overwhelming teams with our hard work.”

Last season the Barons got off to a fast start en route to the No. 1 overall seed in the Western Conference. This season they've hovered around the playoff bubble all season.

Nine teams in the Western Conference are battling for the final four playoffs berths. Oklahoma City is in seventh. Eight teams make the playoffs.

The Barons, though, have been on a roll, going 9-3-3 their last 15 games.

“That's hopefully a good sign for us moving forward,” said defenseman Taylor Fedun. “We really have to bear down and get these important (standings) points. Even though we've been winning games other teams are winning, too.”

One advantage the Barons have is games in hand over all playoff contenders below them in the standings.

“But you have to win those games,” said Barons coach Todd Nelson. “The reason we've been winning consistently is we've been getting contributions from everybody.”

The differences have been an improved defense that hasn't allowed more than three goals in a game in three weeks; a red-hot penalty killing unit that hasn't allowed a power play goal seven straight games and the return of goaltender Yann Danis.


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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BARONS at TEXAS STARS

* When: 7 p.m. Friday

* Where: Cedar Park Center (Cedar Park, Texas).

* Radio: KXXY-FM 96.1, Jim Byers play-by-play.

* Scouting report: The Stars lead the Western Conference but the Barons have dominated the season series, going 7-3-1, although five of the wins were when Edmonton young stars Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Justin Schultz were playing in OKC during the NHL lockout... Barons forward Mark Arcobello, who has moved into the top 10 in the AHL in scoring (57 points), has scored 11 points in 10 games against Houston... The Stars' top scorer Matt Fraser currently is with Dallas. Their leading scorer on the roster is Colton Soeviour (44 points)... Texas goalie Cristopher Nilstorp is 18-10-8 with a 2.27 goals against average.

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