In a whirlwind season when several of the Edmonton Oilers' young stars played in Oklahoma City during the NHL lockout, Barons defenseman Martin Marincin's “rookie” season flew under the radar.
Marincin contributed two assists in the Barons' 4-0 win over the Texas Stars on Monday night at the Cox Convention Center.
Monday's game, which gave the Barons a 2-1 edge in an American Hockey League Western Conference second-round, best-of-7 series, continued a season-long trend for Marincin.
When Marincin is on the ice, the Barons consistently have outscored opponents.
A 21-year-old defenseman from Slovakia, Marincin posted a plus-20 rating during the regular season. He is plus-3 in the playoffs.
“You might not put a lot of emphasis on plus/minus if a guy is close to even, but you can't argue with the numbers when a guy is plus-20,” said Barons general manager Bill Scott. “He's played really well in the second half of the season. He's had a great first year.”
Marincin technically isn't a rookie. He appeared in one game with the Barons two years ago and played in six games in OKC last season.
But this was the season Marincin essentially was making his pro debut.
Similar to the regular season, Marincin showed again Monday night he's two-way talent, a defenseman who can provide offense from the blue line.
Marincin set up Toni Rajala's goal that gave OKC a 1-0 lead early in the second period. With just over seven minutes left in the second period Marincin had an assist on Anton Lander's power play goal.
A two-goal lead is huge in this series. The two teams have scored only 10 goals combined in three games.
Oklahoma City took a 3-0 lead when Mark Arcobello scored his sixth goal of the playoffs with 15:23 remaining. C.J. Stretch added an empty-net goal with 17 seconds left.
But it was Marincin who played a key role when the Barons seized control of the game in the second period.
“Early in the year he logged a lot of ice time with Justin Schultz, and he kind of wore down,” Scott said. “When we started managing his minutes he became a lot better.
“A lot of his mistakes were masked early by Justin Schultz. Those were mental errors because he was tired at the end of games. As the year went on we put him in a better position and he's taken off. He's still got to work on his strength but that part of his game will come.”
Nelson said Marincin has tried to put on weight.
“I've watched him eat. He eats a lot, but I don't know where it all goes,” Nelson said. “Once his body matures he'll get stronger and stronger. He has some nice offensive ability but also does a great job defensively.”
Marincin, still trying to learn English, said he's pleased with his first pro season. He's focused on helping the Barons make another extended playoff run.
“Everything has been good for me,” Marincin said. “I play with Fedsy (Taylor Fedun). He's really helped. Sometimes he can charge up with the forwards, sometimes it's me. We complement each other well.”
Marincin, 6-foot-5, 197 pounds, played with Prince George and Regina in the Western Hockey League the past two seasons. His pro debut has put him on the radar to join the Oilers even if it's another year or two away.
“He's a tall, lanky guy who has a great stick,” Nelson said. “It's very hard to maneuver the puck around him. He's been very good for us the second half of the year. He's been very consistent. We're very happy with the way he's progressed. It shows in his plus/minus.”