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Oklahoma City Barons notebook: Goaltender Niko Hovinen gets first start for OKC

The 6-foot-7 netminder shakes off nerves, bad start to help Barons whip Charlotte
by Michael Baldwin Published: February 1, 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

Goaltender Niko Hovinen made his first start for the Barons on Friday night in a 7-3 win over Charlotte.

Edmonton claimed Hovinen off waivers from the Philadelphia Flyers and assigned the 6-foot-7, 24-year-old Finland native to Oklahoma City.

“I was nervous. I didn't have the start I wanted, giving up two goals in the first,” Hovinen said. “Luckily the guys played great (with seven goals) and helped me out. I love it here. Everything about it has been great so far.”

Hovinen was 4-6-3 with a 3.14 goals against average this season with Trenton in the ECHL.

“As the game went on he settled in,” said Barons coach Todd Nelson. “He's a big guy. He covers a lot of net and made some big saves down the stretch when Charlotte was pressing.”

PENALTY KILL WAS BETTER

The Barons penalty-kill is last in the 30-team American Hockey League (76.8 percent). They surrendered two more power play goals Friday night, but one deflected in off defenseman Brett Clark's stick, the other deflected off defenseman Colten Teubert's skate.

“I don't know if last year the hockey gods were on our side on the PK and this year they're paying us back,” Nelson said. “But our PK was a heck of lot better tonight. We had more intensity, more desperation and blocked a lot more shots.”

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by Michael Baldwin
Redhawks, Barons, MLB, NFL 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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