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.
BY RYAN ABER
The National Hockey League’s trade deadline’s affect on the Oilers organization will be felt more with the Barons for the time being.
Edmonton traded Barons defenseman Shawn Belle to Colorado and received a pair of defensemen in deals will report to the Barons.
For Belle, the Oilers acquired Kevin Montgomery from the Avalanche.
In 51 games for AHL Lake Erie, Montgomery had 2 goals and 17 assists and was minus-2.
In another deal, the Oilers acquired Colten Teubert and a pair of draft picks from Los Angeles for Dustin Penner.
Teubert has spent the season with Manchester, with 2 goals and 8 assists and plus-7.
Teubert was the No. 13 overall pick by the Kings in 2008.
When Zack Stortini cleared waivers in early February, Belle’s days appeared numbered.
The move put the Barons over the American Hockey League’s veteran limit, necessitating that one veteran sit out each game.
“We needed to make a move with Clear Day coming up,” Barons general manager Bill Scott said. “And I think we got a pretty good, young defenseman back in Montgomery.
“This makes next week easier for us.”
The AHL’s 22-man Clear Day rosters, which set playoff eligibility, are due next Monday at 2 p.m. Central.
Belle had struggled since returning from his second call-up to Edmonton in early January.
He had just one assist in eight games while dealing with a pair of injuries.
Since Stortini’s arrival, Belle had missed the team’s last nine games with a lower-body injury but had recently returned to practice.
Belle had three goals and 17 assists in 39 games with the Barons.
The Barons resume play at home Friday against Abbotsford.
BY RYAN ABER
Barons left winger Teemu Hartikainen was named the American Hockey League’s Rookie of the Month for January after scoring four goals and 10 assists and going plus-8 in 15 games in January.
Hartikainen’s resurgence has come since moving to a line that included Philippe Cornet and Milan Kytnar early in the month.
The 20-year-old Finnish winger is tied for third among AHL rookies in goals (14) and points (32) entering tonight’s game against Peoria.
Here’s a link to the Patriot-News’ (Harrisburg, Pa.) story on the AHL All-Sar Game
HERSHEY, Pa.–For the second consecutive night, Barons winger Alexandre Giroux received a standing ovation when he was introduced at the Giant Center during the American Hockey League’s All-Star festivities.
Monday night, Giroux had a goal and an assist, drawing another large applause from the appreciate crowd in Hershey but it wasn’t enough as the Western Conference fell 11-8 in front of a sold-out crowd of 10,736.
Giroux, who starred for back-to-back Calder Cup teams in Hershey the last two seasons, picked up his goal in the third period with a shot from the right circle at 17:43.
“I really wanted to get a goal for the fans,” Giroux told The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa.
He assisted on a second-period goal from Chicago’s Spencer Machacek.
The Barons’ other All-Star, Colin McDonald, assisted on a first-period goal by Grand Rapids’ Illari Filppula.
The West led 4-1 just past the midpoint of the first but the East scored five consecutive goals and nine of the next 11 to seize control.
Binghamton’s Bobby Butler had a goal and three assists to earn Most Valuable Player honors.
Andrew Gordon, Giroux’s former Hershey teammate, set an AHL All-Star record by scoring just 16 seconds in.
Giroux nearly brought the crowd to its feet late in the second but Wilkes-Barre/Scranton goalie John Curry stopped him on a breakaway. He also hit the post with a shot midway through the third.
Giroux told the newspaper he was touched by the response he received.
“It was amazing,” Giroux said. “I didn’t think the crowd would be that good with me. It’s something I’ll really remember a long time. I was pretty appreciative.”
BY RYAN ABER
When asked about playing in Hershey, Alexandre Giroux gets a gleam in his eye.
Giroux starred for the Bears for the last two-plus seasons before signing a one-way contract with Edmonton that pays him a reported $500,000 regardless of whether he’s in the NHL or AHL.
The money was nice, sure, but with more money on the table from the KHL, Giroux didn’t sign with the Oilers over a return shot to Hershey just for financial gain. He thought it was a better path to the NHL.
So far, it hasn’t worked.
Giroux returned to Hershey yesterday for the American Hockey League All-Star weekend. In yesterday’s skills competition, Giroux’s ovation was the biggest of the night.
Before he left, Giroux spoke fondly of his Hershey experience.
“You realize how good you have it when you leave,” Giroux said. “Obviously, the crowd makes a big difference. It’s not everywhere in this league that gets good crowds. I remember we’d go to Lowell and it seemed like there was a dozen people. When you’re in Hershey, on a Wednesday night of a Sunday, you’d have 8 or 9,000 people. It makes a hell of a difference when you go on a road trip and come back to a place that’s almost sold out.”
BY RYAN ABER
Giroux one away from 600
With his next point, Barons winger Alexandre Giroux will become the 44th player in American Hockey League history with 600 points.
If Giroux gets that point tonight or tomorrow, he’ll go form 500 to 600 in less than a year.
Giroux scored his 500th point on Dec. 19, 2009, on a second-period goal in Hershey’s 5-4 win against Rochester.
Giroux’s next goal will be No. 319 in the AHL, tying him for 13th overall in league history. He could be in the top 10 by the end of the season. Brad Smyth is currently No. 10 with 326 goals. No. 9 is Tim Tookey with 353.
Petiot expected to return
Richard Petiot is expected to play tonight for the first time since Nov. 7.
Petiot suffered a knee injury in that game against Toronto and was initially expected to miss just a week or two.
“It’s just one of those things you want to make sure it’s healed all the way before you come back,” Petiot said. “I didn’t want to come back too early and then wind up hurting it again and being out for longer.”
Petiot is plus-3 with four assists in 15 games for the Barons.
With most of the week off, Barons coach Todd Nelson put his team through a pretty rigorous practice schedule this week, something Petiot said helped him to be sure he was ready to return.
“It’s definitely a help,” Petiot said. “I’ve been testing it out and it feels good so far.”
Defensemen all accounted for
While the possibility remains for a defenseman to be called up this weekend, as of now it looks like all the Barons defenders will be in place for tonight’s game.
Earlier this week, Nelson said the most likely candidates for callup to the Oilers were Alex Plante (4 NHL games), Shawn Belle (15 NHL games), Taylor Chorney (44 NHL games) and Jeff Petry (0 NHL games). He also said Petiot remains a possibility if he could prove he was healthy.
“It just depends on what they want,” Nelson said. “We’re talking to them every day.”
It didn’t take long for Linus Omark to make his mark after a callup to Edmonton last week.
In his debut, Omark assisted on a Tom Gilbert goal in the second period that put the Oilers ahead.
But his big mark came in the shootout, when he started with a spin-o-rama in the neutral zone before beating Tampa Bay goalie Dan Ellis to clinch the Edmonton win.
Nelson has seen the move before. Omark most recently did the spin move in a shootout at Manitoba. That attempt, however, did not lead to a goal.
“He scored, that’s the point,” Nelson said. “You have to let guys be creative when they can do things like that.”
Nelson said Omark improved consistently throughout his time with the Barons in fitting his creativity in to the Barons’ overall system.
“Guys that have that creativity to do things like that, you want them to do it but it has to fit within the system,” Nelson said. “But when they can make it work in that structure, then it’s a good thing for the team and for the sport.”
Omark had another big night in last night’s Oilers win over Columbus, scoring his first NHL goal and assisting on two more in Edmonton’s 6-3 win.
Deslauriers headed to Spengler Cup
The Barons will be without goaltender Jeff Deslauriers for at least three games and possibly a few more after being named to the Canadian team in the Spengler Cup, which will be played Dec. 26-31 in Davos, Switzerland.
Deslauriers is 4-4-2 with the Barons.
He’s the only player on Canada’s roster for the event who doesn’t play professionally in Switzerland.
Deslauriers will share goaltending duties with Tyler Moss, who has played in the NHL with Carolina, Calgary and Vancouver.
The Barons figure to recall Bryan Pitton during Deslauriers’ absence. Pitton has already had several stints with the Barons, playing in three games with a 1-1 record.
Canada finished fourth in last year’s event and was runner-up in 2008. They last won the tournament in 2007.
The team will be coached by legendary Oilers star Mark Messier. Oilers assistant Bill Moores will assist Messier.
BY RYAN ABER
A couple of short notes before the Barons take on Rockford at 7:05 tonight (KTOK-AM 1000):
-Barons coach Todd Nelson said newly recalled winger Jesse Gimblett could make his Barons debut tonight depending on the health of other players but seemed less inclined to play Gimblett after the game than in pregame talks.
Before the 4-2 win over Manitoba on Friday, Nelson said Gimblett’s size made him a likely candidate to enter the lineup against a physical Rockford team. But given the way the Barons played against the Moose, Nelson said he wasn’t inclined to switch things up.
The most likely switch for Gimblett would’ve been with Phillippe Cornet, who was regularly a scratch before Linus Omark and Ryan O’Marra were recently recalled. But Cornet played a solid game Friday, likely earning himself another game in the lineup.
“I want to get Jesse into a game, I’m just not sure when,” Nelson said. “I don’t know when it’s going to be. It’s pretty hard to make a chance right now but we’ll see.
“I thought Phil Cornet played his best game of the year. Making his case. That was great for us to see.”
-Nelson was particularly impressed with the play of Jeff Petry in Friday’s game. Petry scored a goal on a coast-to-coast move that finished with a wraparound and also played solid defense in the win.
“He’s got a great shot, moves the puck like a pro,” Nelson said. “He’s just playing with more confidence. He’s playing better away from the puck. That’s what we were trying to get him to do. He’s more aware in the D-zone.
“He’s coming along nicely. He’s going to be a special player in the future.”
-Nelson was also happy with the play of center Dave Bonk. Bonk, playing on a line with Liam Reddox and Teemu Hartikainen, played a lot especially early.
“I thought he was great tonight,” Nelson said. “That’s the way he plays. He’s very dependable down low and he’s very creative. In the first period, I think he had some opportunities. That line was good for us. I thought Hartikainen picked up his game.”
Hartikainen and Alexandre Giroux played together on a line coming off penalty kills.
-Former Oklahoma City Blazers winger Wade Brookbank is expected to be in Rockford’s lineup tonight.
Brookbank played for the Blazers in 1999-2000, racking up 354 penalty minutes in 68 games.
The 33-year-old has played 18 games for the IceHogs, scoring a goal to go along with 18 penalty minutes.
“Those guys don’t kill the majority of penalties so after a big kill, we want to get some offense going so we throw them out there,” Nelson said.