The OKC Barons are 6-2-1-1 in their last 10 games and appear to be finding the range. The club boasts the Oilers franchise cornerstone (Taylor Hall) along with three massive building blocks (Ebs, Nuge and Schultz) that should this team from a good one “on paper” to a winning franchise in the bricks and mortar division.
The Nuge leads the league in powerplay assists already (9) and if he continues to impact the 5×4 (as he did last year in the NHL) we’re going to have to find some comparables from yesterday to put it in perspective. Eberle and Schultz are tied for the league lead in assists overall, and Schultz has a two point lead over Eberle in the total points race (23 to 21) so far this season.
Taylor Hall is having an impact already, scoring 3 PP goals in his 9 games to make the front page in that category (league leader has 5).
With all of the firepower on the OKC side, you’d think this would be another night of freewheeling for the Barons. Not so. The Charlotte Checkers are minor league psycho killers, scoring an average of 3.7 goals per game so far this year (Barons are scoring 3.18).
Whereas the Barons are led by Justin Schultz and the three NHL kids, Charlotte’s power comes from emerging forwards like Drayson Bowman (former WHLer has 11 goals in 13 games), Zack Boychuk (another WHL player, Boychuk appears to be recovering his career and is 17, 10-6-16), Chris Terry (14, 8-5-13), Zac Dalpe (16, 5-8-13) plus Jerome Sansom (17, 3-7-10). Riley Nash (16, 3-6-9) plays a two-way role on the club.
Not to be outdone by Justin Schultz, the Checkers boast an amazing young talent in Justin Faulk (14, 3-12-15) on the blue, plus names like Bob Sanguinetti, Andre Gragnani and Justin Krueger (Ralph’s boy) on the blue. Their goaltender tonight will probably be Dan Ellis–he of the league leading .948 save percentage.
Barons are 9-5-1-1 with 20 points, and trail Charlotte (the Checkers are in the South division this year) by 6 points with a game in hand.
This should be an outstanding hockey game! It’s Hockey Night in Charlotte! Enjoy!