The Oklahoma City Barons roster was trimmed to 26 players on Monday which could be their final roster when they open the American Hockey League season Friday night at Lake Erie.
AHL teams can suit up 20 players but Barons general manager Bill Scott might keep 26 to open the season.
On Monday, the Edmonton Oilers re-assigned forwards Philippe Cornet and Toni Rajala to Stockton in the ECHL.
In a separate transaction the Oklahoma City Barons loaned defenseman Teigan Zahn to Stockton. Zahn played with the University of Calgary last season and signed with the Barons over the summer.
Over the weekend the Oilers re-assigned goaltender Tyler Bunz to Stockton and released forwards Justin Maylan and Eric Hunter from tryout agreements.
Barons left winger Kristians Pelss scored a goal in Friday’s preseason game which was his pro debut after scoring 28 goals for Edmonton’s minor league team in the Western Hockey League last season.
“I was preparing for this game all summer,” Pelss said. “I was a little bit nervous but after (a while) I just forgot and played hockey.”
Playing division rival Houston in back-to-back preseason games Friday and Saturday night led to some chippy moments. Including the playoffs, the Barons played the Aeros more than 10 times last season.
“I know most every guy on that team,” said Teemu Hartikainen. “I’ve been hitting them and they’ve been hitting me. It’s a rough team. They play hard and we play hard. Of course, when you play hard emotions come.”
Center Ryan Martindale, who had a goal and an assist in Friday’s 4-0 win, said the two teams know each other well.
“Coach (Todd) Nelson really stressed to us that we’ve played them so many times that we had to set the tempo now going into the season,” Martindale said. “We can’t give them an inch. They know what to expect when we play them during the season.”
Coach Todd Nelson said: “When we always play teams within our division we want to try to establish a mental edge. I thought our guys did that.”
Barons defenseman Justin Schultz, a two-time All-American at Wisconsin, is making his pro debut in Oklahoma City. He started Friday’s preseason game and drew an interference penalty 12 seconds into the game.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Schultz said. “We were both going back for the puck and our skates clipped each other and I got a penalty I guess for interference. I was in shock. It’s a good story… After the first few shifts I kind of got used to the pace.”
Schultz, though, had a solid debut. He scored a power play goal in the second period in a 4-0 win.
“It went pretty well and we still don’t have our whole lineup with Nuge (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) and Ebs (Jordan Eberle),” Schultz said. “We still have a lot more, to show how deep this team is.”
Barons left winger Teemu Hartikainen split time between Oklahoma City and Edmonton last season.
In Oklahoma City’s preseason opener Friday night, a 4-0 win over Houston, the Finland native contributed two assists on power play goals in the second period.
When the NHL lockout ends Hartikainen is one of the top candidates to join the Oilers.
“I know exactly what the coaches need me to do and I have to do it if I’m going to play in the NHL,” Hartikainen said. “I know my role is to be a playmaker… I know what I have to do.”
The Barons’ preseason opener Friday night was defenseman Taylor Fedun’s first game since he broke his femur in an Edmonton preseason game a year ago.
“I got rid of the cobwebs in the beginning and just had some fun,” Fedun said. “I had a blast out there. It was awesome to back into it.”
Fedun said he had a few nerves but “that’s always a good thing. It’s if I’m dead or I don’t have nerves before a game I’m worried. I did feel good, though. I was able to slow things down and play the way I used to play and hope to do that again. I felt really comfortable out there.”
The 24-year-old veteran who was battling to make his NHL debut a year ago when he suffered the injury on an icing play against Minnesota, said he didn’t have any flashbacks to the gruesome injury.
“I’m honestly not just saying that,” Fedun said. “Going back for a puck and taking that first hit it felt good again. There was no hesitation or negative thoughts… I hope things continue to get better and stay on that path.”
Barons coach Todd Nelson said: “It was a good game for a guy who had to go through so much. He wasn’t tentative going into the corners. He battled hard. He played a smart game, moving the puck in the right situations. He played solid for us. I liked his game. I liked what I saw. He always had those question marks how is he going to adapt to playing again. But he was very good for us.”
The Barons’ first two regular season games will be broadcast in the United States and Canada on Sirius/XM, the American Hockey League office announced on Friday.
Oklahoma City opens the season Friday (Oct. 12) and Saturday (Oct. 13) against Lake Erie at Quicken Loans arena in Cleveland.
Additional games that will be broadcast on Sirius 207 and XM 92 will be announced at a later date.
This marks the eighth consecutive season AHL action will air on SiriusXM NHL Network Radio, including the annual AHL All-Star Game, the Calder Cup Finals and other regular-season and playoff games.
The Barons home opener is October 19 against the San Antonio Rampage at the Cox Convention Center at 7 p.m.
In their final tune-up before hosting two preseason games against the Houston Aeros Friday night and Saturday night, the Barons conducted their second scrimmage Thursday morning at the Cox Convention Center.
The blue team won 3-2, getting goals from Justin Maylan, Jordan Eberle and Phillippe Cornet. White team goals were scored by Alex Plante and Tyler Pitlick.
Maylan’s goal came off a rebound when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins hit the post. Pitlick tied the game before Eberle scored on a backhander off a 3-on-1 opportunity. Cornet scored off a nifty pass from Mark Arcobello.
The Barons have 34 players in camp. Coach Todd Nelson is expected to make some cuts after the weekend preseason games. The Barons open the season Oct. 12 at Lake Erie. The home opener is Oct. 19.
Teigan Zahn, a rookie defenseman who is making his pro debut after playing at the University of Calgary last season, said his No. 1 priority is to put everything on the line to make the Barons final roster.
Zahn, who scored 15 points in 27 games last year in college, said it’s hard not to be upbeat with the beautiful weather in Oklahoma.
“I sure like the heat,” Zahn said. “Watching news Calgary has some snow coming in. Down here it’s 27 (degrees Celsius which translate to 80 degrees Fahrenheit). For it to be 27 and you’re playing hockey nothing beats that.”
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, a candidate for Rookie of the Year last season with the Edmonton Oilers, scored the only goal in a three-man shootout following a 1-1 intra-squad scrimmage Wednesday morning at the Cox Convention Center.
Nugent-Hopkins, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft, is playing with the Barons during the NHL lockout.
Barons coach Todd Nelson divided 34 players in camp into the blue and white teams. The scrimmage lasted two periods with a running clock.
Veteran Dane Byers scored the white team regulation goal. Taylor Fedun, who missed all last season following a broken leg, scored the blue team’s goal.
“The first three days of practice have been excellent,” Nelson said. “I thought today’s scrimmage was indicative of how things are going. We split the teams up evenly and it ends up in a 1-1 tie and had to go to a shootout to determine the winner.
“I like the way the guys were playing their systems, things we’ve worked on the previous three days. There was good execution. I was very happy. From an individual standpoint a few guys stood out and a couple of other guys need to pick it up. All in all it was very good.”