BY RYAN ABER
Bonk sharing line with Reddox, Hartikainen
Dave Bonk, just up from the Central Hockey League’s Allen Americans, will play tonight on a line with Liam Reddox and Teemu Hartikainen.
That’s a pretty nice role for a new addition to stop right into.
“Those are two really good players,” Bonk said. “Hopefully I get an opportunity to play quite a bit.”
Bonk played one game for the Barons earlier this season, skating for the team in an overtime loss to Houston on Oct. 15.
Bonk said his approach will change a bit this time around, though.
“The first game before, maybe I played a little tentative and didn’t want to make any mistakes,” he said. “I know I’m not up here to try and light it up but at the same time, I feel I do have some skill and playing with those guys, it makes the game easier. Hopefully I can play well and stay with those guys.”
Bonk has six goals and 15 assists in 16 games with the Americans this year. In his last three games in the CHL, Bonk has seven points (two goals, five assists).
“It’s going really good,” Bonk said. “I think I’ve been contributing a lot. I haven’t been scoring much but we’ve got lots of guys that can score down there. If I’m getting assists, that’s fine too.”
Nelson said Bonk was a natural fit to get the first chance at taking over at center when the Oilers called up Ryan O’Marra.
“We got a natural centerman taken away from us from Edmonton and we wanted a natural centerman to come up,” Nelson said. “He did a good job for us before and he’s having a pretty good year so we felt comfortable with him.”
BY RYAN ABER
I wrote today about Barons coach Todd Nelson being able to relive his lone NHL goal (Barons coach goes back in time
Here are three Barons’ recollections of their first NHL goals (Alexandre Giroux has scored four NHL goals as well):
(5 NHL goals. First goal Nov. 15, 2008 at home against Colorado in an eventual 3-2 shootout loss. Reddox’s goal came at 7:25 of the second from Fernando Pisani and Andrew Cogliano)
“I don’t remember much about it, I just remember seeing the pictures. I think I had five or six different celebrations after I scored. Other than that, it was pretty surreal being able to score my first NHL goal, especially so early in my NHL career (it was Reddox’s second NHL game and first of that season).
“Initially, I think I was a little annoyed because Cogs looked me off. He gave it to Fernando Pisani. Pos missed the net, it came off the backboards and I was right on the doorstep. I just tried to get it over, I think it was Budaj in net (it was). I just tried to get it over his pad and after that, everything went blank. I came to when I got back to the bench.”
(Lone NHL goal Nov. 28, 2009 in Vancouver in an eventual 7-3 loss. McDonald scored at 6:06 of the second from Ryan O’Marra)
“I do have the tape but I actually haven’t watched it. Hopefully there’s many more to come but I think that’s something that I’ll just hang on to and once my career’s over, I’ll take a look at. For now, I’m just trying to get back there so I don’t see there’s any need to watch it quite yet.
“I remember exactly how the play happened. I remember the celebration. It was definitely the best moment of my life. We were in our defensive zone and O’Marra had the puck and ended up getting it to me wide. I was playing the left side there and it was a 3 on 2 and the defenseman gave me some room to shoot and I shot it and it just happened to go in. I’ve scored a couple of goals similar to that. I did one this year at home against Texas on my off wing so I’ve shot there before.
“I got a couple of messages from guys that saw it but the one I remember most was from my goalie back in school (Tyler Sims). He said how I used to score on him all the time with that same shot so he wasn’t surprised.”
(Lone NHL goal Jan. 27, 2004 for Columbus against New Jersey in a 4-3 New Jersey win. His goal came in his fourth NHL game and first of that season. The goal was assisted by Rick Nash and David Vyborny)
“It’s just exciting and kind of a relief at the same time. It’s something you never forget.
“I remember the play. I was out there with Rick Nash and David and they made a great play and hit me backdoor. I got my own rebound and was able to score.
“It was on Martin Brodeur so that made it even more special.”
BY RYAN ABER
Barons goaltender Martin Gerber lost a close decision to Manitoba’s Eddie Lack in a shootout loss Friday.
In the rematch Saturday, Gerber won in a knockout.
Gerber posted his second shutout of the season and the Barons got to Lack in the second and third, closing out a five-game roadtrip with a 4-0 win at the MTS Centre.
A pair of Barons players snapped long scoring droughts in the win. Ryan O’Marra, after picking up his 13th assist earlier in the second, scored for the first time this season at 17:28 after Linus Omark’s pass deflected off a Moose defender to O’Marra.
Late in the third, Alexandre Giroux scored his first goal since Oct. 27 on the power play. Giroux, the AHL’s leading goal scorer in each of the last two seasons, had gone 14 games without a goal.
The Barons, No. 1 in the AHL in penalty killing, killed off all seven Manitoba power plays, including a pair of extended 5 on 3 chances.
“I thought we were not too much puck-watching,” Gerber said on Manitoba radio. “We gave them some shots but we tried to keep them as far out as possible. That’s always helpful for the goalie.”
Gerber also shut out Lake Erie on Oct. 19 at home.
Matt Marquardt and Omark also scored for the Barons, who return home at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday to play Houston.
Omark also assisted on Giroux’s goal.
Gerber was making his second start for the Barons after a two-game stint in Edmonton.
Friday, he had his seven-game Barons and nine-game overall winning streak halted by Manitoba’s 3-2 shootout win.
Saturday night, Gerber quickly was challenged after Jordan Bendfeld and Taylor Chorney drew penalties just 4 seconds apart about nine minutes into the game.
But Gerber turned away several Manitoba chances on the 5 on 3 and wound up stopping all 37 Moose shots.
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.
BY RYAN ABER
Just as one wave of new players arrives in Barons training camp Monday, another group was sent down from Edmonton right behind them.
The Oilers cut eight players Monday, a day after wrapping up their preseason schedule against Calgary.
Edmonton sent down forwards Liam Reddox, Linux Omark, Ryan O’Marra, Alexandre Giroux, Ben Ondrus and Chris Vande Velde as well as defensemen Shawn Belle and Richard Petiot.
All but Omark and Vande Velde have to clear waivers before being assigned to the Barons.
The Barons also released three players from their tryout assignments–Anthony Aiello, Mike Egener and Vladimir Nikiforov.
Aiello will play for the Oilers’ ECHL team in Stockton, Calif., while the other two have signed with the ECHL’s Florida Everblades.
The 23-year-old Omark wasn’t happy about the assignment to the Barons.
“There is a lot of politics,” Omark told the Edmonton Journal.
When asked if the Edmonton organization was the best place for Omark to be this year, he declined comment.
The Swedish winger scored 36 points (20 goals, 16 assists) in 56 games for Moscow Dynamo in the KHL last season.
“I am very disappointed,” Omark told the paper. “But it’s not up to me. I think I played better and better every day. But that’s just the way it works. I am going to do my best in Oklahoma City and see what happens.”
Omark showed well in Oilers camp but it was crowded for rookie forwards with last year’s No. 1 pick Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi all apparently making the squad.
Vande Velde played in two games for the Oilers’ AHL affiliate in Springfield last year after finishing his NCAA career at North Dakota.
Giroux, 28, had his best overall scoring season as a pro last year, with 103 points (50, 53) for the Calder Cup-winning Hershey Bears. He added 27 points (14, 13) in the playoffs.
Giroux has played 31 games in the NHL in parts of four seasons.
O’Marra, the No. 15 overall pick by the Islanders in 2005, played the last two seasons for Springfield and had a solid camp but also lost out in the numbers crunch at the end.
Ondrus is another AHL veteran, serving most recently as the captain for the Toronto Marlies. Ondrus has also played in 52 career NHL games.
The Oilers still have to make two more moves by Wednesday afternoon’s deadline to set their roster before the season begins.
The Barons, though, might be done receiving players from Edmonton.
That hinges on what the Oilers do with disgruntled defenseman Sheldon Souray.
Souray cleared waivers last week but has not been assigned.
Edmonton general manager Steve Tambellini said if Edmonton couldn’t find a way to move Souray, he would send him to the minors.
Souray could be assigned to the Barons, a deal could be worked allowing Souray to play for another AHL team, or the Oilers could work out a deal with a European club to loan Souray. The last option would require Souray’s consent, though.
The Edmonton Oilers trimmed their roster by 20 players Monday, assigning five of the players cut to the Barons.
The Barons were assigned left wingers Philippe Cornet and Matt Marquardt, center Milan Kytnar, defenseman Jordan Bendfeld and goaltender Bryan Pitton.
Also, left wingers Jesse Gimblett and James Livingston and right winger Mike Thomas were invited to Oklahoma City on a tryout.
The Barons open their four-day training camp Monday at the Cox Convention Center leading up to Thursday’s intrasquad game at the arena.
They open the season Oct. 9 at home against the Houston Aeros.
Here’s last seasons stats for the five players assigned to the Barons:
Stockton Thunder (ECHL): 22 Games, 9-9-3, 2.85 GAA, .921 save pct.
Springfield Falcons (AHL): 8 Games, 2-6-0, 4.71 GAA, .857 save pct.
Stockton Thunder (ECHL): 52 games, 0 G, 10 A, 10 pts., 91 PIM
Springfield Falcons (AHL): 10 games, 0 G, 1 A, 1 pts., 7 PIM
Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL): 65 Games, 28 G, 49 A, 77 Pts., 32 PIM
Sasktatoon Blades (WHL): 3 games, 0 G, 1 A, 1 pts., 2 PIM
Vancouver Giants (WHL): 42 games, 14 G, 25 A, 39 pts., 40 PIM
Providence Bruins (AHL): 42 games, 1 G, 9 A, 10 pts., 21 PIM
Reading Royals (ECHL): 9 games, 1 G, 2 A, 3 pts., 14 PIM
Springfield Falcons (AHL): 4 games, 0 G, 0 A, 0 pts., 4 PIM
Stockton Thunder (ECHL): 7 games, 1 G, 1 A, 2 pts., 4 PIM
BY RYAN ABER
Single-game tickets for the Oklahoma City Barons will go on sale at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Ticketmaster outlets, the team announced today.
Tickets range from $14 to $36 and are available at outlets including the Cox Convention Center Box Office, online at Ticketmaster.com and by phone at 1-800-745-3000.
Tickets purchased the day of the day game are subject to a $2 surcharge.
The Barons inaugural season begins Oct. 9 at the Cox Center against Houston.
Season tickets and mini plans are available through the team at OKCBarons.com and by phone at 232-4625.
The team also announced that they will open their American Hockey League training camp at 10 a.m. Sept. 27 at the Cox Center.
Barons coaches left for Edmonton on Tuesday for Oilers training camp, which begins with Rookie Camp on Thursday.
The on-ice portions of the camp, which will last for four days, are open to the public and are free to attend.
The Barons‘ lone preseason game will be Oct. 2 in Cedar Park, Texas, against the Texas Stars.