BY RYAN ABER
Some quick hits after a conversation with Barons coach Todd Nelson and forward Colin McDonald this afternoon:
- The plan right now is for newly signed center Tanner House to be in the lineup tomorrow night in Milwaukee.
“He’s a very responsible two-way centerman who takes pride in what he does in the defensive zone but can also put up some numbers,” Nelson said.
The other Barons played on an amateur tryout contract who has yet to see game action is defenseman Taylor Fedun.
Fedun might not see the ice for the Barons this season.
“We’ve got a lot of depth right now on defense,” Nelson said. “And he’s going to be heading back to the university soon.”
- Martin Gerber is back in Oklahoma City for testing but may be able to rejoin the team in Houston over the weekend.
“We’re supposed to get word today on how those tests went,” Nelson said. “Hopefully, he’s feeling a lot better and all he has to do is get through the soreness and get back on the ice for us.”
Gerber was injured last week in a third-period collision in the Barons’ eventual shootout loss to Grand Rapids.
Since then, Jeff Deslauriers has come in and done a commendable job.
“He came on in a tough situation and really played outstanding for us,” Nelson said. “Even last night, we just ran out of gas. Two of their three power-play goals were off deflections and there wasn’t a whole lot Jeff could do.”
- McDonald continues to produce no matter who he’s paired with.
Much of his early-season successes were attributed to his being paired with Alexandre Giroux and Brad Moran.
Moran has been consistently at center on McDonald’s line but through Giroux’s recent call-ups to Edmonton and then Teemu Hartikainen’s move up as well, McDonald has put together probably his best stretch of the season.
“He realizes that he had to step up to the plate and he’s done so,” Nelson said. “He’s getting rewarded to working hard. He’s one of the guys we depend on right now to get us through this stretch.”
Friday night in Rockford, McDonald had his first hat trick since juniors in the Barons’ 5-1 win over the IceHogs.
“For whatever reason, things have been going well for me this year,” McDonald said. “It was nice to get to the 30-goal plateau but to do it with a hat trick was pretty neat.
“I try to stay on an even keep though. I don’t want to get too low when things aren’t going great or too high when they are. I just want to keep focused on next time.”
- McDonald and several teammates took advantage of Monday’s off day to spend some time away from hockey.
“We’re just trying to rest up, get some fluids and try to get our minds off of hockey for a little bit,” McDonald said.
To do that, McDonald and teammates Moran, Deslauriers, Richard Petiot, Jake Taylor, Ben Ondrus and Zack Stortini went to the mall.
“We’re just relaxing some and probably going to see at least one movie a bit later,” McDonald said.
BY RYAN ABER
Playing their third game in as many days against a team that was a day removed from coming off a five-day break, it wasn’t surprising that the Barons had a letdown Sunday.
Whether they could afford it could be another story.
Locked in a tight race in the West Division, the Barons fell 4-0 at Chicago, falling into a three-way tie for fourth with nine games left.
All of the Wolves’ goals were scored on special teams, with Tim Miller starting things off by taking advantage of a Barons giveaway to score shorthanded 11:37 into the game.
The Wolves then added a pair of power-play goals in a 1:15 stretch in the middle of the second. Both came off separate Ben Ondrus minor penalties.
Chicago scored another power-play goal in the third to finish 3 of 6 with the advantage. The Barons were scoreless on seven power-play tries.
The Barons get a day off today before resuming the trip at second-place Milwaukee on Tuesday. The trip concludes with a trio of games at Houston over the weekend.
The loss was the first time on the trip the Barons have failed to pick up a point. They’re now 2-1-0-2 on the trip.
Newly signed forward Dusty Collins sat out in favor of a seventh defenseman. The Barons were joined by Tanner House, who signed an amateur tryout contract with the team earlier in the day.
House, who sat out as a healthy scratch, signed a two-year deal with the Barons NHL affiliate Edmonton a day earlier. That deal takes effect next season.
Taylor Fedun, who was also added on an ATO earlier in the month, has yet to see action with the Barons.
BY RYAN ABER
The Edmonton Oilers announced the signing of free agent forward Tanner House to a two-year contract before their game Sunday night.
House, a Cochrane, Alberta, native, recently finished his senior year at Maine. He tied for fourth on the team with 35 points (10 goals, 25 assists) and added 56 penalty minutes in 35 games.
House was also named the Gladiator Hockey Best Defensive Forward in Hockey East after going plus-13 in league play.
The Oilers didn’t immediately announce where House would report but it’s likely he could join recently signed Taylor Fedun in joining the Barons on an amateur tryout contract. Fedun has been with the Barons on their recent road trip but has yet to see action.
BY RYAN ABER
Desperation had long set in for the Barons in the closing moments of regulation Saturday against Abbotsford.
The Barons needed some kind of break to get past Heat goaltender Leland Irving.
With less than 20 seconds remaining, they got it.
Colten Teubert scored with 17 seconds left, then Brad Moran scored in overtime to lift the Barons to a 2-1 win in front of 4,669 at the Cox Center.
“It’s a big win for us,” Teemu Hartikainen said. “This whole group together pulled this one out. It felt like we’d won a championship out there with the way the fans reacted.
“We needed that.”
It was the Barons fifth overtime win of the season but first at home. It came on the same night they played without leading scorer Alexandre Giroux for the first time this season. Giroux was recalled to Edmonton earlier in the day.
“It was great to be able to go out to center ice and salute our fans after winning one like that,” Matt Marquardt said. “In a game like this, you get that late goal and it deflates the other team and we got the momentum and took control.”
The Barons controlled things for most of the third period but Irving was up to the challenge.
Irving stopped the Barons’ first 17 shots of overtime before the 18th, a blast from Teubert that deflected in off an Abbotsford player past Irving to tie the game.
“I don’t know what happened,” Teubert said. “It was crazy. It’s a credit to our team. They paid the price in front of the net. It was a great team effort tonight.”
Just moments before Teubert’s goal, a sprawling Martin Gerber had kept the Heat from taking a two-goal lead with a series of saves.
In overtime, Hartikainen worked the puck down low before getting a shot off Irving’s pad bounced to Moran on the side of the net where the 31-year-old from Abbotsford put it home to send the Barons to the win.
“I’m proud of the guys with the way we won that one,” Barons coach Todd Nelson said. “We kind of changed things up a bit and went with the guys who were performing well and they stuck with it, didn’t quit and they got the job done.”
Going into the third period, Nelson adjusted lines and shortened his lineup, electing to send the newly formed line of Moran, Hartikainen and Colin McDonald out for every other shift in the third.
The decision paid off as the Barons dominated play in the third before finally breaking through on Teubert’s goal.
“It’s a huge win,” Nelson said. “It’s a good character builder. It was a total team effort.”
The Barons return to action Tuesday at home against Manitoba.
BY RYAN ABER
After the Barons 5-3 loss to Abbotsford on Friday night, Alexandre Giroux was focused squarely on happenings in Oklahoma City.
“You can’t worry about that,” Giroux said of the news earlier in the day that Oilers rookie Taylor Hall had been lost for the season, possibly opening a spot in Edmonton for the 29-year-old veteran. “You don’t have any control over that so you just do your best here and hope it gets recognized.”
Giroux got the call from Edmonton, becoming the latest Barons player to earn a shot with the Oilers this season.
Going into tonight’s game against Abbotsford, Giroux is one of five players who have played in every game with the Barons.
Brad Moran, Colin McDonald, Teemu Hartikainen and Ben Ondrus are the others.
Giroux got off to a slow start but has steadily heated up, moving to second in the American Hockey League in points and third in goals.
Giroux has 29 goals and 36 assists for 65 points in 61 games.
Giroux has played in 31 NHL games with the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals, scoring four goals and five assists.
In 697 AHL game, Giroux has 637 points (337 goals, 300 assists) and 831 penalty minutes.
BY RYAN ABER
During the second intermission Friday night against Abbotsford, with his team leading by one, Barons coach Todd Nelson preached to his team about the importance of the first five minutes of the third.
“Then we come out and they score 20 seconds in and from that point on, it went downhill,” Nelson said.
Things caved in on the Barons during that span as the Heat scored three times in the first four minutes of the final period to beat the Barons 5-3 in front of 4,135 at the Cox Center.