Barons coach Todd Nelson opted to use Niko Hovinen in goal Saturday night, although regular starter Yann Danis has had the hot hand of late. Danis is 5-1-3 in the last nine games and will likely start Sunday's 4 p.m. game.
But Nelson was quick to say that Saturday's 3-0 loss to Chicago in the Cox Center was not the fault of the Barons' backup.
“I thought Niko was strong,” Nelson said. “He got a glove on the first shot they scored on — he actually thought he made the save. The second one, he made the save. The guys in front of him just needed to work harder and get the puck away from him.”
The Barons were in Cedar Park, Texas, on Friday night (a 3-2 win over the Stars) and did not arrive back in Oklahoma City until 5:30 a.m. Nelson said his No. 1 goaltender needed a rest.
The Barons were without defensemen Colten Teubert and Randy Jones and forward Josh Green. Teubert and Jones are listed as day to day with lower-body injuries. Green is sidelined with a lower-body injury and is week to week.
Two people in a crowd of 3,985 won a Ford Fiesta as part of the Barons' 12-car giveaway promotion. Oklahoma City-area residents Diana Amos and Asberg Mahanti were the winners. Saturday night was the last giveaway of the season.
Jim Vandermeer scored Chicago's second goal of the game. He is the brother of former Blazers forwards Bill and Ted Vandermeer. ... Staying with the Blazers for a bit, former Oklahoma City defenseman Tyler Fleck has retired. After the Blazers left the Central Hockey League, Fleck spent the last four seasons with the Tulsa Oilers. He played nine seasons with the Blazers, including a few years as team captain. ... Defenseman Garrett Stafford, who was traded to Oklahoma City on April 2, has now played for nine teams in the American Hockey League during his career. Stafford's other stops have been Cleveland, Worcester, Grand Rapids, Texas, San Antonio, Portland, Hamilton and Hershey. ... Nelson is a former Chicago assistant coach. The Wolves won the Calder Cup in 2008 with Nelson on the staff. ... Chicago has won six consecutive games against Oklahoma City. The Wolves have outscored OKC 23-6 during that stretch.
The Barons host the Wolves again Sunday. Faceoff is at 4 p.m. at the Cox Center. Tickets are available at the arena box offices, with prices beginning at $10.