OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla.—If you were a Checkers fan, you would have loved the first period: a somersaulting goal scored by Sean Dolan and a breakaway goal scored by the ever persistent Zack Boychuk. In the second period, the tide turned in the Barons favor, as the home team tied the score then had a stellar final period with a hat trick going to 2013 All-Star Mark Arcobello.
The first goal of the game was initially waived off by the referee. After much politicking, the play was reviewed for evidence of kicking the puck. Eventually, the goal was awarded to Charlotte, despite what some Barons fans deemed goaltender interference. This
review of a goal on the first potential score of the game had an eerie similarly, as the first goal of the game the previous night that was waived off and would have been in the Barons favor.
Being down two goals had an effect on the Barons. “The reaction on the bench was our guys got ticked,” said Coach Todd Nelson. “A guy like Bennie Eager deserves a lot of credit, the game changed due to the physicality. We have to be physical to be effective.” Of the numerous thundering checks thrown by Eager, only one earned a boarding call, at 6:25 in the first period.
With the shots on goal for the opening period, a very lop-sided 21 to 7 in favor of Charlotte, the home team had some catching up to do. “We were in a deficit of shots in the first period,” said Jonathan Cheechoo. “One of the things that helped us get back in, and take the lead was shooting more, and it worked for us.”
Last Season’s Goaltender of the Year Winner Yann Danis stopped several shots as he was peppered late in the first period. “Defense wins you games,” said Randy Jones. I won’t take any credit away from “Danner” cause he has played unbelievable in goal for us. he deserves a lot of credit.”
The Barons veteran leadership shone through with three minutes remaining in the first period, when Former Norris Trophy winner Cheechoo got the home team on the board. “He [Toni Rajala] used his speed to get around the D-man,” said Cheechoo. “He walked around the net and hit “Arco” he missed and threw it out in front of me. I was sitting there in the crease; I was able to bang it home.” The Barons are an impressive and predictable 10-0-0 when Cheechoo scores.
Veteran defenseman Jones scored his first goal of the post-season on a shot from the bottom of the left wing circle, in what would be the only score of the second period. This goal tied the game at two apiece. By the end of the second period, the shots were 29 to 23 in favor of the visiting Checkers.
In the third period, the go-head goal was scored in a flurry of players. Confusion existed as to whom scored the goal: Cheechoo as originally announced, or Arcobello. “We had a 4-on-3 with Toni [Rajala] and kind-of drilled towards the net,” said Cheechoo. “Jonesy” [Jones] sent one right across the crease.” This goal was also reviewed for a kick-in, however the goal stood.
“I think you can ask both of them, it doesn’t really matter [who scored],” said Jones. “Honestly you can give it to Danner [Danis]. The most important thing is a “W” at the end of the game, and that is what we are happy with.”
On the fourth Oklahoma City goal, Arcobello scored on a play from Cheechoo in the Checkers defensive zone. Following the face-off, Charlotte decided to pull their goaltender for an extra skater. Unfortunately goalie Rob Madore fell down a few feet from the bench, thus delaying the extra skater. Arcobello was able to shoot the puck from the blue line into the vacated net for his hat trick.
Oklahoma City won by a score of 5 to 2. The line of Cheechoo – Arcobello – Rajala was really clicking, as this line combined for eight points. “They did well; they obviously contributed,” said Nelson. “I think we will keep those guys together; I like the chemistry of it.”
With the overtime loss the previous night, it was “do or die” for the Barons. “You can’t drop two at home, especially in a five-game series,” said Arcobello. “It was a big third period for us and hopefully that momentum carries over to Wednesday.” The series is tied at one apiece with the next games being played in Charlotte in the best of 5 game series. The fourth-seeded Checkers will have home ice advantage.
contact the writer at email@example.com