Barons roar out of gate in pre-season opener
Justin Schultz scores in debut as Barons romp over Aeros 4-0
The game marked the debut of several newcomers, among those rookie defenseman Schultz.
“After the first couple of shifts, I started getting used to the pace and felt really good after that,” Schultz said. “Everyone played really well out there. We did well without everyone out there. It just shows how deep our team is.”
The Aeros controlled the pace early, benefitting from a Barons penalty just 12 seconds into the game. Starting netminder Roy stood strong, as he shunned away five first-period shots from Houston. Oklahoma City matched the shot total in the opening frame.
The Barons had a prime scoring opportunity develop with seven minutes to go in the period. Antti Tyrvainen’s shot from the slot was stopped by Houston goalie Matt Hackett, and the Barons were unable to gain control of the loose puck before the whistle blew.
Returning veteran Colten Teubert made his presence felt late in the period as he and Brandon Davidson broke up a potential breakaway by Charlie Coyle to keep the game scoreless. Schultz then had a scoring chance late as he poked the puck away from the Aeros defense but slid the puck just wide of the net.
Schultz then setup Teemu Hartikainen for a scoring chance early in the second period, but Hartikainen just missed his shot high.
The feistiness from the first period carried over into the second as Brett Bulmer went off for boarding at 14:15. Drew Bagnall went off for interference at 12:47 to give the Barons a 5-on-3 power play. Hartikainen just fanned on a rebound opportunity as the two-man advantage expired.
Bunz replaced Roy in net midway through the second. Roy ended the evening turning away all eight Houston shots he faced in 29:24 played. The Barons proceeded to put offensive pressure on the Aeros, jumping ahead in shots on goal.
Tyrvainen had another scoring chance thanks to a screen from Justin Maylan, but Tyrvainen was unable to redirect the pass from Arcobello. Curtis Hamilton also got a chance but was unable to get a shot off from a Pelss centering pass.
Following a scrum in front of the benches, Oklahoma City came away with a power play with 3:43 left in the period. Seconds later, the Barons had a second 5-on-3 opportunity and Martindale jumped on the loose puck three seconds later to give Oklahoma City a 1-0 lead. Hartikainen and Dan Ringwald picked up the assists.
Schultz got on the board just 26 seconds later as Martindale and Hartikainen got the assists to put the Barons up 2-0 at the second intermission. Oklahoma City pulled ahead in shots, 16-9, after the second, holding the Aeros to just four shots on goal in the period.
Tyrvainen’s persistence finally paid off as he earned an assist on Arcobello’s goal at 12:05 in the third period. Taylor Fedun marked his return to in-game action for the first time in more than a year and also earned an assist on the goal.
“It felt great,” Fedun said of his return to action. “It was nice to get rid of the cobwebs there at the beginning. I had a blast out there. It was awesome to be back into it.”
Pelss added Oklahoma City’s fourth goal of the evening at 8:51 as he tipped Davidson’s shot from the point to push the Barons ahead 4-0. Anton Lander earned the secondary assist on what proved to be the evening’s final goal.
Barons head coach Todd Nelson was pleased with his team’s performance in their first exhibition contest of the season.
“I thought everyone played pretty well,” Nelson said. “It was a good exhibition game win. We got to see a lot of different scenarios with a lot of players in different positions. I thought our goaltenders played well. I thought our guys got stronger as the night went on.”
The Barons and Aeros meet in a second preseason contest Saturday evening at 6 p.m. MT.