By Jim Byers, on 10/12/2012


Oklahoma City Barons at Lake Erie Monsters
Barons Game 1  |  Road Game  1 |  AHL Game 4
Oct. 12, 2012, 6:30 pm CDT  | Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
Radio: KXY 96.1 FM

TONIGHT: The Oklahoma City Barons begin their third season in the American Hockey League with the first of consecutive games at Quicken Loans Arena against the Lake Erie Monsters (Colorado Avalanche). This 2-game set is the Barons’ only visit to Cleveland this season. Last season, the Barons won 3 of 4 against the Monsters, taking both at “The Q,” while the Barons’ loss came at home in overtime. OKC made the Calder Cup playoffs for the second straight season, collecting the most points in the Western Conference (99) and advancing to the Conference Final.

OFF THE TOP: The Barons split a pair of pre-season games against the Houston Aeros last weekend at the Cox Convention Center in OKC. The Barons took the Friday contest 4-0 before dropping Saturday’s rematch 6-2. The opening-day roster consists of 25 players: 16 forwards, 7 defensemen and 2 goaltenders. Eighteen players on the opening roster played at least 1 game for the Barons last season, including 16 skaters and both goalies, Yann Danis and Olivier Roy.

BEHIND THE BENCH: Todd Nelson returns for his third season as OKC’s head coach. The 43-year-old native of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, has a 2-year record of 85-57-14 behind the Barons’ bench, a .590 point percentage. The bulk of OKC’s staff also returns for a third season, as rejoining Nelson are assistant coaches Gerry Fleming and Rocky Thompson, athletic trainer Brandon Dionne and equipment manager Matt Mitchell. New to the team are assistant equipment manager Al Oman and Strength and Conditioning coach Kevin Hanlon.

SCHEDULE SHORTS: Lake Erie is the opponent for 4 of OKC’s first 5 games, however after this early flurry the teams do not meet for the remainder of the regular season. The Barons return home from this 2-game trip to begin a stretch of 7 straight home games spanning 3 full weeks. After Saturday, OKC’s next road game is Nov. 4 at San Antonio, followed by a weekend set at Abbotsford Nov. 9-10. The Barons have 8 sets of 3 games in 3 days, down from 12 last season. Thirty-six of OKC’s 76 games are against Texas-based teams (12 each against Texas, Houston and San Antonio).

GOING SOUTH: Three Western Conference teams switched divisions this off-season and the Barons’ former West Division is now the South. Abbotsford departed the Barons’ division to move to the North, pushing Grand Rapids to the Midwest and Charlotte to the South, joining the Barons and the 3 Texas-based teams.

The Barons’ opening-day roster features 12 players drafted with the 48th overall selection or higher in the first 2 rounds of the NHL Entry Draft.
Player                 Round              Year   Taken by
Nugent-Hopkins   1, 1st overall     2011   Edmonton
Paajarvi               1, 10th overall   2009   Edmonton
Teubert                1, 13th overall   2008   L.A.
Plante                  1, 15th overall   2007   Edmonton
Eberle                  1, 22nd overall  2008   Edmonton
Green                  2, 30th overall   1996   L.A.
Pitlick                   2, 31st overall   2010   Edmonton
Lander                 2, 40th overall   2009   Edmonton
Schultz                2, 43rd overall   2008   Anaheim
Marincin               2, 46th overall   2010   Edmonton
Byers                   2, 48th overall   2004   NYR
Hamilton              2, 48th overall   2010   Edmonton

OKC: 45-22-4-5, 99 pts.   1st, West Division and Western Conference
Lake Erie: 37-29-3-7, 84 pts.        3rd, North Division

Oct. 8: Philippe Cornet and Toni Rajala reassigned by Edmonton to Stockton (ECHL).
Oct. 8: Teigan Zahn loaned by OKC to Stockton.

Player                    Issue                Out
Back spasms   day-to-day

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