LAST 10: Oklahoma City 6-2-1-1; Charlotte 7-2-0-1
Season Series: This weekend will be the first and second meetings of the season (out of eight) between Oklahoma City and Charlotte. Last season, Charlotte won five of eight meetings and picked up points in seven of eight against their southern rivals. Oklahoma City won a 1-0 game in regulation in addition to one in the shootout and one in overtime.
Big Story: The Barons continue their seven-game road trip and look to win their fourth straight after defeating the Texas Stars on Wednesday night. The Charlotte Checkers are the top-ranked team in the entire AHL with 26 points. OKC is fourth in the Western Conference with 20 points. Two regulation wins this weekend would bring them within two points of their South Division rivals with a game in hand.
Barons: Oklahoma City has picked up points now in five straight games (9 out of a possible 10 points). Their power play ranks second in the AHL at 25.7% with only Charlotte holding a better record at 26.3%. ... Teemu Hartikainen is quietly putting up a good season with 14 points (5g, 9a) in 16 games. Hartikainen had 32 points all season last year for the Barons (in 52 games). ... Tonight also marks the season debut of Philippe Cornet, recalled Thursday from Stockton of the ECHL. For the season, he has 19 points (8-11-19) and is +8. His 19 points is second on the Stockton roster and good for a tie for 10th in the ECHL. He leads Stockton with four power-play goals. Last season, he led the Barons in goals with 24 and was named to the Western Conference AHL All Star Squad.
Checkers: Charlotte is led offensively by forward Zach Boychuk and defenceman Justin Faulk. Boychuk already has 10 goals this season and 16 points. Faulk has 15 points in 14 games and ranks second in the AHL to Justin Schultz in scoring by a defenceman. ... Checkers goaltender Dan Ellis has a 1.71 goals-against average and .948 save percentage in 9 games this season and is 5-2-0-2.
Who's Hot: After picking up points in 11 straight ECHL games, Toni Rajala scored a goal in his first AHL game on Wednesday. Taylor Hall picked up 3 points on Wednesday and now has 9 points in 8 games for the Barons this season. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has 5 points (2g, 3a) in his last 2 games.
Puck Drop: The Barons continue their mammoth seven-game road swing this weekend with games three and four.
"We're going to need everybody to tug on the rope because Charlotte's playing good hockey. They're a good hockey team and we can't afford to have any kind of lapses. We need to play 60 minutes (both nights) and play it well," said Barons head coach Todd Nelson. "We're getting better and better every game in certain areas and hopefully in a few months we can put the package all together and be a 'well oiled machine' -- no pun intended."
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