BY RYAN ABER
Linus Omark drew attention from across the hockey world with five goals for the Barons against Toronto on Sunday.
But his linemate might have had the individual play of that game before Omark started his scoring binge.
About nine minutes into the game, Liam Reddox took the puck in Toronto’s zone, flipped it off the boards near the blue line and sped around the defender on the other side, streaking away for a breakaway goal.
“To describe Liam’s game in a word would be speed,” linemate Ryan O’Marra said. “He’s relentless out there and the puck seems to find him everywhere.
“I think he’s just as dangerous on the penalty kill as he is five on five or on the power play.”
In 16 games headed into tonight’s home game against Chicago, Reddox has seven goals, seven assists and is plus-six.
The 24-year-old from Ontario is far form content, though.
“I still feel like there’s room for improvement,” Reddox said. “I want to be a point per (game) guy in this league. I’m not there yet but if I continue to work on my skills and have the same chemistry I’ve had through the first 16 games with Linus and O’Marra, I can accomplish that.”
Reddox is second in the AHL with 70 shots on goal, 14 behind league leader Jerome Samson of Charlotte.
“Day in and day out, he’s going to give his best,” Reddox said. “That’s what he does and that’s why he’s successful.”
At 5-foot-11, Reddox learned quickly that if he was to be an NHL player, speed would be responsible for getting him there.
“With my size, I’m not the biggest guy out there but if they can’t catch you, it doesn’t really matter how big or small you are,” Reddox said.
Reddox played 46 games for Edmonton in 2008-09 but played just nine games for the Oilers last year, spending most of the season in the American Hockey League.
He looked to have a solid shot at making the Oilers out of training camp but was among the last cuts in camp.
Since arriving in Oklahoma City, Reddox has kept himself in prime position for a call-up if a need arrises in Edmonton. Oilers President of Hockey Operations Kevin Lowe mentioned Reddox specifically, among a few other Barons, earlier this week when talking about players who could earn a call-up.
“He seems to have a breakaway every game and that just shouldn’t happen in pro,” O’Marra said. “Just his speed is that impressive. But it’s not just that. He gets to the tough areas. He’s not shy to get to the corners. He initiates contact. He really just does everything right.
“There’s no real deficiency to his game to be completely honest.”
BY RYAN ABER
The Barons line of Linus Omark, Liam Reddox and Ryan O’Marra has produced its share of goals overall but O’Marra is still looking for his first goal.
O’Marra has piled up the assists, with nine entering Friday’s game against Chicago, but is disappointed with his lack of goals.
“I feel at times I’m holding them back a bit since I haven’t been scoring at all,” O’Marra said. “It’s been frustrating.”
O’Marra can’t remember going through a stretch of 16 games without a goal and isn’t sure what can be done to break through.
“Enough’s enough,” he said. “I’ve got to help them out a bit more with the chances I’ve been getting. I’ve got to start putting pucks in the net. It’s laughable at the moment. It’s embarrassment.”
Through those 16 games, though, O’Marra has already equalled his highest assist output as a pro. Last season, he recorded 12 goals and seven assists splitting time between Edmonton and the Oilers’ AHL affiliate in Springfield, Mass.
O’Marra is also leading the Barons on plus/minus at plus-7, one ahead of Reddox.
Early goal problems continue
Even after scoring just 17 seconds into Tuesday’s eventual loss to San Antonio, the Barons streak of allowing goals early continued.
The Rampage tied it just 4:06 in, their sixth consecutive game allowing a goal in the first 5:35.
The Barons have been 4-2 in that stretch but have to fix the issue, O’Marra said.
“We just have to keep it simple,” O’Marra said. “I don’t there’s any quick fix for it.
“Yeah, we’ve been able to come back but we can’t keep doing that.”
Barons coach Todd Nelson said the team needed to jump ahead better, especially at home.
“We’ve discussed that as a team,” Nelson said. “I don’t know what it is. It takes us awhile to get upset and get going. We have to have better starts.
“We can look at our routine. Whatever it takes, we have to fix that.”
Lowe happy with continuity
Edmonton President of Hockey Operations Kevin Lowe took in Tuesday’s game, watching from up top with Barons general manager Bill Scott.
For the second time with Lowe in attendance, the Barons lost, but the performance was much better than Lowe’s other trip which came on opening night. The Barons lost 6-1 that night.
Edmonton has yet to call up a player from the Barons and, despite the Oilers early season struggles, Lowe is happy there is stability with the Barons for now.
“You want to be able to keep some continuity,” Lowe said. “It’s good that we’ve been able to let them stay together early in the season. We’re going to need players from here, there’s no doubt. You can’t go through an NHL season without injuries but it’s nice to be able to let them come together as a team early.”
Cornet close to return
Nelson said after Tuesday’s loss that left winger Philippe Cornet should be ready to return this weekend.
Cornet has missed the Barons last five games with an undisclosed lower-body injury.
Cornet has two assists in 10 games.
While Cornet’s return is imminent, defenseman Richard Petiot could be out for a week, also with a lower-body injury.
Petiot missed his first game of the season Tuesday. He has four assists and is plus-3 in 15 games.
Cornet practiced Wednesday. Petiot did not.
BY RYAN ABER
SAN ANTONIO RAMPAGE (8-4-1-0) AT BARONS (9-5-1-0)
When: 7:05 tonight
Where: Cox Center
Season series: San Antonio leads 1-0 (4-1 on Oct. 22)
- Two nights after Linus Omark scored five goals in a 7-6 shootout win over Toronto, the first-place Barons return to division play against the Rampage.
While Omark’s night was the best by far in the AHL not on Sunday but this season, there were plenty of noteworthy performances around the league that day. Omark’s five-goal effort was one of four hat tricks in the AHL’s nine-game schedule Sunday.
-After Martin Gerber played Sunday, Jeff Deslauriers is expected to get the start in net tonight.
-Barons Jeff Petry (2 goals, 7 assists) is among the top rookie scorers in the league.
-Through Sunday’s games, scoring in the AHL Is up nearly 7 percent from last season at this point (5.97 goals per game in 2010-11, up from 5.58 through 188 games in 2009-10).
-Former Barons goaltender Bryan Pitton was named the East Coast Hockey League’s goaltender of the week. The 22-year-old was 2-0-0 with a 0.96 goals against average and a .956 save percentage for the Thunder last week.
-The Barons rank first in the AHL in penalty kill at 92.6 percent. Worcester is second at 91.2. San Antonio is 25th at 78 percent.
-San Antonio is 7th in the AHL in power play at 21 percent (13 goals in 62 advantages). The Barons are 20th, at 16.1 percent (15 power play goals in 93 advantages). The Barons have the most advantages by far in the league. Adirondack and Charlotte are tied for second at 80.
-The Barons are 4-3-1 when trailing after one period.
-Philippe Cornet appears to be out yet again with an undisclosed injury. Richard Petiot and Matt Marquardt appear to be the other scratches.
BY RYAN ABER
It had been awhile since Linus Omark had scored four goals in a game, much less five.
“In juniors I think,” Omark said after scoring five in the Barons 7-6 shootout win over Toronto on Sunday night.
Omark said he was about 17 or 18 the last time he’d scored that many in a game and had to stretch back much further for the last time he scored more.
“My tenth birthday I got 18,” the 23-year-old Swede said.
Unsurprisingly, Omark was named the Reebok American Hockey League Player of the Week on Monday.
Omark scored the Barons last five goals in regulation, then scored another in the shootout that was needed to extend the contest.
Barons captain Ben Ondrus has been in the middle of most of the recent five-goal games in the AHL.
Ondrus was on the Marlies when Jiri Tlusty scored five for Toronto on Feb. 18, 2009, the last time it happened in the league. He was also on the St. John’s Maple Leafs when Kyle Wellwood scored five in 2004.
Taylor happy to be back
While the Barons were on their successful 4-1 road trip recently, defenseman Jake Taylor remained back in Oklahoma City as he worked his way back from an upper body injury.
Taylor initially pinpointed last Friday’s return home as his return date but the way the team was playing kept him on the bench for the first two games back.
But Taylor returned Sunday, starting in the Barons win over Toronto.
“It was great to be back,” Taylor said. “Getting injured early in the season like that is pretty tough because you’re just starting to get your feet back under you and feeling good about things.”
Taylor hadn’t played since the third game of the season.
After the game, Taylor said he felt close to 100 percent.
While Taylor is back healthy, winger Philippe Cornet has been an unhealthy scratch during the homestand with an undisclosed injury.
Weekend takes it toll
Barons coach Todd Nelson knew going into Sunday’s game that it might not be the best display of hockey.
Both the Barons and Toronto entered the game playing the final night of the three-games-in-three-night stretches that mark the weekend-heavy AHL’s schedules.
For the most part, it lived up to that.
“These games kind of happen three and three,” Nelson said. “Both teams are tired.”
But even with less than their best performance–save the Omark, Liam Reddox and Ryan O’Marra line–the Barons won for the sixth time in seven games.
“As a coaching staff, I think we had to get the defibrillator out,” Nelson said. “The best thing about tonight is the guys had the will to win. We worked hard, put up 50 shots on net but we also made some bad mistakes.
“But our guys could’ve shut it down after 4-1. They could’ve shut it down after 5-3 and they could’ve shut it down after 6-4 but they had the will and they stuck with it.”
Omark’s 10 goals have him tied with Portland’s Luke Adam for the AHL lead. … The Barons will offer $1 beer at tonight’s game. … Martin Gerber has won six consecutive starts and leads the league in wins (8), minutes (738) and saves (315). … The Barons have three players in the top 20 in the league in scoring (Omark, Reddox and Alexandre Giroux). No other team has more than two. … Defenseman Shawn Belle is the leading scorer in the AHL among defensemen, with a goal and 12 assists.