The Oklahoma City Barons dropped a tough 3-2 shootout decision to the Rochester Americans in their only meeting at the Cox Convention Center this season. The win earned the Barons a valuable standing point as the team continues to compete for playoff positioning in the Western Conference playoff race.
Curtis Hamilton got things going for the Barons within the first minute. After Chris Vandevelde and Andrew Hotham combined to get the puck into the offensive zone, Hamilton found himself in the goaltender “no play zone” near the right-wing end boards. As he started to go behind the net, he sent the puck toward Rochester goaltender Danny Leggio. The puck ricocheted off of Leggio’s left pad and into the net. The goal was Hamilton’s fourth of the season.
The score would remain 1-0 at the end of the first period with the Barons holding a 10-7 advantage in shots on goal.
Early in the second period proved to be much of the same as the Barons scored on their first shot of the frame. Ben Eager corralled an errant pass in the neutral zone and found a streaking Toni Rajala near the blueline. Rajala worked the odd-man rush by faking the shot and sending it cross ice to Anton Lander who put his fourth goal of the season over the shoulder of Leggio. The goal for Lander was his first since January 4 against Grand Rapids.
As much as first period was controlled by the Barons, the second was tipped in favor of the visitors. Rochester cashed in and scored their first goal of the game at 7:11 of the second. Defenseman Adam Pardy rifled home a shot from the point over the shoulder of Barons netminder Yann Danis.
Danis made several key saves during the period, preserving the Barons 2-1 lead at the end of two periods.
Rochester tied the game with an early-period goal of their own just 1:07 in to the frame. Phil Varone collected the puck behind the net of Danis and scored on a wraparound attempt. It marked his ninth goal of the season.
The third period featured back-and-forth play, with the Amerks holding a 14-10shots on goal advantage. The Barons had three consecutive power-play opportunities midway through the third period, but were unable to find the go-ahead goal.
Tied at two after regulation, the overtime period featured even more end-to-end action. Early in the extra session, Rochester had an opportunity to end it when the rebound of an Amerks point shot found its way by Danis, but bounced off the left post.
The latter part of the overtime belonged to the Barons. The final minute of the overtime featured the Barons with control of the puck and several opportunities. Amerks goaltender David Leggio stood tall and stopped all six Barons shots in the overtime session.
In the shootout that followed, only Amerks defenseman Alex Biega was able to score and Leggio stopped all five Barons shooters to give Rochester the 3-2 win.
Despite the shootout loss, the Barons gained a valuable standing point and are now tied with Abbotsford and Chicago with 67 points in the Western Conference playoff positioning.
The Oklahoma City Barons return to action this weekend for a pair of home games. The weekend starts Friday at home against the Houston Aeros at the Cox Convention Center at 7 p.m.
Their weekend concludes Saturday evening against the San Antonio Rampage at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.