The Edmonton Oilers, the Barons’ parent club, re-assigned forward Cameron Abney to Oklahoma City and sent forward Kristians Pelss to Stockton. The Barons also recalled defenseman Teigan Zahn.
Zahn attended training camp with the Barons before being assigned to Stockton on Oct. 8. With Stockton, Zahn recorded five points, including two goals, and served 13 penalty minutes.
Abney, from Aldergrove, B.C. was assigned to Stockton on Oct. 22 where he has played one game and served five penalty minutes. Last season, Abney, a physical enforcer, split time between Stockton and Oklahoma City. In 46 games last season Abney recorded five points and served 156 penalty minutes.
Pelss recorded two assists in two games with the Barons. A seventh-round pick two years ago, Pelss played with the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Western Hockey League the past two seasons.
The Barons close out a seven-game homestand Friday and Saturday against the Houston Aeros. Faceoff for both games is 7 p.m. The weekend concludes with three games in three days when Oklahoma City plays Sunday afternoon in San Antonio.
The Barons Nov. 10 road game at the Abbotsford Heat will be televised on Sportsnet ONE in Canada.
Sportsnet is televising one American Hockey League game every Saturday night in November.
Sportsnet ONE is a 24-hour national sports channel that features over 800 hours annually of live-event programming, the majority in high definition.
The channel’s line-up is highlighted by the Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto Raptors, Barclays Premier League, UEFA Champions League and four NHL teams (Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Ottawa Senators).
Sportsnet ONE also televises some NCAA football NCAA basketball and Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Barons rookie defenseman Justin Schultz is not only the top scoring blue liner in the American Hockey League two weeks into the season, he’s tied for the league lead with three forwards.
Schultz recorded three assists in Oklahoma City’s 4-3 win Tuesday night over the Lake Erie Monsters.
Through five games, Schultz has notched nine points, including four goals.
“I didn’t have a clue I’d be where I am (in the AHL scoring race),” Schultz said. “That’s what happens when you’re on the ice with Nuge and Ebs.”
Schultz was referring to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle, two young Edmonton Oilers stars that are playing with the Barons during the lockout.
For Schultz, a two-time All-American at Wisconsin, playing with the Barons is his pro debut.
Using a loophole to become a free agent after his junior year with the Badgers, Schultz signed with Edmonton in large part to play to play with Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle and Taylor Hall, another young Oilers star who could join the Barons as early as next week.
“How much fun is it playing with them?” Schultz said. “It’s a blast. You just get the puck to them and watch them go to work. They couldn’t be stopped (Tuesday) night.”
Schultz, though, has shown why he will be an instant NHL starter once the lockout ends. Last week he was named the AHL Player of the Week.
In the home opener, a win over San Antonio, Schultz notched two short-handed goals and recorded a franchise record plus-5. In a loss to Lake Erie Saturday night, he unveiled a fancy move to get around Monsters defenseman Cameron Gaunce for a highlight-reel goal.
“I kind of blacked out there. I didn’t know what I was doing,” Schultz said. “I usually don’t get many one-on-ones with a goalie.”
Schultz’s hot start has created a buzz among his former Wisconsin teammates.
“They’re all congratulating me on a good start and my friends and family are able to see, too,” Schultz said. “But this is only a start. There’s a lot more games in this league than in school. We would only play 41 or 42 a year, max.”
Game No. 6 with the Barons is Friday night at the Cox Convention Center when they host the Houston Aeros.
The headline and photo on the cover of the most recent edition of the Hockey News is another reminder the level of NHL caliber talent that’s playing in Oklahoma City during the NHL lockout. Below a picture of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Justin Schultz The Hockey News’ headline reads:
The A Team: We Pity The Fools Who Have To Face The NHL Stacked Barons.
It’s The Hockey News American Hockey League edition which features a story on the Barons and a story on how Toronto’s AHL team would love to bring a cup to a hockey crazed city.
Barons fans have a rare treat watching two future NHL All-Stars play in Oklahoma City during the NHL lockout.
But until Tuesday night’s 4-3 win over Lake Erie, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle had combined for only three points in five games.
It was just a matter of time before shots on goal became goals.
“If people were worried, I wasn’t, not at all,” said Eberle, who had just one point (a goal) in his first four games while Nugent-Hopkins had only two assists.
Eberle was an NHL All-Star last season who led the Edmonton Oilers in scoring. Nugent-Hopkins, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft, was an NHL Rookie of the Year finalist.
“I actually thought we’d played well the first four games, but nothing was going in,” Eberle said. “All of a sudden, tonight, we get five chances and four go in (all on the power play).”
Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle tripled their point totals in Tuesday’s win. Nugent-Hopkins scored two goals and added an assist. Eberle scored his second goal of the season and also chipped in two helpers. Eberle also had a goal disallowed because he booted it past Monsters goalie Chet Pickard.
“I actually had one just like that last year in Edmonton and they counted it, but …”
Nugent-Hopkins scored the game-winner on an awkward pass from Eberle early in the third period.
“It’s been building (an offensive breakthrough),” Nugent-Hopkins said. “We did get lots of bounces in this one.”
Allowed to play in the American Hockey League because they’re still in their entry-level NHL contracts, Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle are embracing the opportunity to play during the lockout while many veterans sit at home.
The Oilers’ two young stars arrived in Oklahoma City nearly a month ago, not knowing how long their AHL trip would last.
“I probably over-packed,” said Nugent-Hopkins.
Nugent-Hopkins’ and Eberle’s temporary AHL experience continues Friday night at the Cox Convention Center when the Barons host the Houston Aeros.
The Barons have reassigned forward Cameron Abney to Stockton in the ECHL.
A third round pick in 2009, Abney has been with the Barons since the start of training camp. He appeared in both preseason games but didn’t play in any of the Barons four regular season games.
Last season Abney split time between Stockton and Oklahoma City. In 43 games with the two teams, Abney, from Aldergrove, B.C., scored five points while serving 156 penalty minutes.
Barons rookie defenseman Justin Schultz was named the American Hockey League Player of the Week after scoring four points, including three goals, in two games last week.
Posting a plus-6 rating in two games, Schultz scored two shorthanded goals in a 5-2 win last Friday against San Antonio. He compiled a franchise best plus-5 rating. In a 5-3 loss to Lake Erie last Saturday Schultz scored his fourth goal of the season.
Schultz, 22, signed as a free agent with the Edmonton Oilers last summer after three seasons at the University of Wisconsin. Schultz was twice named the WCHA’s Defensive Player of the Year and was one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award in 2010-11 and 2011-12, an award given to the nation’s top college player.
Schultz leads all AHL blueliners with four goals and is second with six points through four games. In recognition of his achievement, Schultz will be presented with an etched crystal award prior to an upcoming Barons home game.
The Oklahoma City Barons home opener Friday is against the San Antonio Rampage, an opponent that is developing a rivalry with the Barons.
The two teams split eight regular season games last season but OKC won a second round playoff series, four games to one to advance to the Western Conference finals.
“We expect a tough game, for sure,” said Barons captain Josh Green. “It’s probably fresh in their minds, the defeat from last year. They’re going to be hungry to come in and get two points. We have to match that hunger and make sure we come out with a lot of enthusiasm, feed off our fans and hopefully get the win.”
Coach Todd Nelson said San Antonio’s methodical style forces teams to play with patience and discipline.
“It’s pretty important to get off on the right foot at home,” Nelson said. “We want to make it tough for teams to come in and play against us. Playing on the road is tough as it is. The last few years we’ve had good road records but we want to make sure we establish ourselves at home so when teams come in here they know it’s going to be a battle.”
Friday’s game is the first of a seven-game homestand.
“It’s always fun to play in front of your fans,” said goaltender Yann Danis. “You always want to do well, especially at home. Hopefully we’ll get a good crowd and that will get us going, for sure.”
Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall, the No.1 overall pick in the 2010 draft, participated in practice with the Barons on Wednesday. Sidelined since March after undergoing shoulder surgery, Hall will continue his rehabilitation in Oklahoma City.
“I won’t be playing any games the next two weeks,” Hall said. “I’m getting used to everything around me. I’d say the first of November realistically is the first time I’d be playing in games.”
Hall has scored 95 points, including 49 goals, in 126 games with the Oilers the past two seasons. He said the final step to return to game action is making sure the shoulder can withstand typical contact like slamming into the boards.
“I haven’t had a lot of body contact or checking so I’ll get myself used to contact in practice,” Hall said. “I’ll just kind of get into a little but not go full right away. But I do need to get some body contact to see how my shoulder reacts and see how everything else feels.”
When Hall returns the Barons will have all three members off Edmonton’s talented, young No. 1 line, players allowed to play in the American Hockey League during the NHL lockout because they’re still in entry level contracts.
“Playing with those guys will make it a lot easier, for sure,” Hall said. “It’s lot better than going to a team where you don’t know anybody. There are a lot of guys here that have played with us and spent some time with us in camp. It’s a young team. The coaches make you feel welcome. I’m pretty happy to be here.”
Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle have endorsed playing in Oklahoma City. Most of players’ non-ice time is spent downtown where they stay.
“The guys really like the city. They like the people here,” Hall said. “So far, walking to the rink it seems like a very vibrant city and a nice place to live. Jordan and Nuge have told me they really like it here. I’m excited to be here… It’s nice to be on a team and be part of that atmosphere.”
After going 1-of-14 on power plays in the opening two games last week against Lake Erie, the Barons have been working on their power play during practice this week.
Oklahoma City split two one-goal games with the Monsters in which power play chances could have made a difference. The Barons’ only power play goal came on a 5-on-3 opportunity.
“On Saturday our power play wasn’t very good,” said coach Todd Nelson. “We struggled. We weren’t sharp. Friday night our power play was much better. We moved the puck. We were a lot fresher.
“I think we need to get more simple. We have to shoot the puck. We have to get pucks going to the net with traffic and really try to bang in those rebounds.”
Nelson said Lake Erie also deserves some credit.
“They go into Toronto the next day and killed off 12 power play opportunities and Toronto is a good hockey team,” Nelson said. “(The Monsters) play a very aggressive system with their penalty kill. Early in the year it’s really effective because you’re not really in sync, yet.”
Nelson added officials appear to be calling games a little tighter early in the season which places even more emphasis on cashing in on man-advantage opportunities.