PREVIEW: Barons vs. San Antonio
Barons open home portion of regular season schedule against San Antonio
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PUCK DROP: 6:05 p.m. MDT
AT THE MORNING SKATEOKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma City Barons open the home portion of their regular season schedule tonight against the San Antonio Rampage. The Rampage are a team the Barons are familiar with, having met 13 times last season including playoffs, and a team that they're going to become very familiar with over the course of the 2012-13 campaign with 12 regular season meetings ahead.
"Everybody's excited to be playing here at home," said Barons head coach Todd Nelson. "It was good last weekend to play two games on the road to get to know each other but coming back home, it's always a special time for your home opener and we want to get off to a good start here at home."
Both Oklahoma City and San Antonio split their first two games of the season -- OKC on the road against Lake Erie and San Antonio at home. Nelson stressed the importance of making sure the opposition knows it will be a difficult two points at the Cox Covention Center.
"We want to establish ourselves. We want teams to know when they come in this building it's going to be very tough to win, doesn't matter what night it is but we have to earn that respect and earn that right."
Last season, the Rampage stifled the Barons offensively as there were three 1-0 games out of their eight meetings.
"They're a very patient team defensively. You'll see them stack up the neutral zone. But when they have a chance to attack they can be aggressive," Nelson added. "They have big strong defencemen that can really smother you in the corners. They have good goaltending and they have some explosive forwards."
In the playoffs, San Antonio continued to frustrate OKC with their patience but the Barons eventually prevailed four-games-to-one with three straight overtime wins.
"The team we're facing tonight is not a carbon copy of the team we faced in the playoffs. They're a bit different but a lot of similar things."
Josh Green, with the OT winner in Game 2 of that series, and Chris VandeVelde, with the OT winner in Games 3 and 4, both know it will be a battle tonight.
"It's always a battle against these guys," said Green. "We play them a lot in the regular season and we saw them in the playoffs last year. We know they're going to be hungry to get back at us and we've just got to make sure we bring a workmanlike attitude to the game tonight and do all the little things right."
"We play them a lot and a bunch of games last year went to overtime or were one-goal games," he said. "We've had a lot of good battles with this team and I think if we keep working hard we're going to eventually come out on top.
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com
LAST 10: San Antonio 1-1-0-0; Oklahoma City 1-1-0-0
Season Series: Last season, the Barons had some troubles with San Antonio as the two sides split their eight-game series with four regulation wins apiece. The season series was a defensive struggle for the most part, featuring six games where a team scored one goal or less, four shutouts and three 1-0 games. OKC won the second-round playoff meeting between the two sides four games to one though they did have to score three overtime winners to pull it out.
Big Story: Oklahoma City opens its home schedule tonight against the San Antonio Rampage. It is the first of seven straight games at the Cox Convention Center and also marks the home debuts of Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Justin Schultz.
Rampage: San Antonio has started the season with a 1-1 record. They opened their season last Saturday at home against the Texas Stars with a loss by a score of 2-1. The following day, the Rampage defeated Houston 3-2 in a matinee.
Only two Rampage skaters have put up more than a single point so far this season -- defenceman Colby Robak and winger Jon Rheault. Robak played last season in Rochester and Rheault played in Abbotsford. ... A name Oilers fans are familiar with is on the Rampage roster. J-F Jacques has a goal in two games so far this season ... Highly-touted LW Quinton Howden is on San Antonio's roster. Howden had 65 points in 52 games last season with the Moose Jaw Warriors.
Barons: The Barons picked up a split last weekend in Cleveland against the Lake Erie Monsters to open the regular season. After a late third-period goal sunk the Barons on Friday night in a 2-1 loss, Saturday afternoon it was OKC who scored late -- Justin Schultz to be precise -- as the visitors pulled out a 3-2 win.
After two games, the Barons have four players who have put up a pair of points: Mark Arcobello, Josh Green, Ryan Martindale and Schultz. Four others have a single point: Martin Marincin, Teemu Hartikainen, Magnus Paajarvi and Tyler Pitlick.
Injury Report: Antti Tyrvainen (back) is now healthy and will play tonight.
Puck Drop: In an effort to spark the offence, head coach Todd Nelson has opted to change up the forward line combinations for tonight's game.
"Right now I have (Antti Tyrvainen) on a line with (Mark) Arcobello and Tyler Pitlick," Nelson began.
"We put Magnus Paajarvi back with (Chris) VandeVelde and (Teemu) Hartikainen -- that was our top line in the playoffs when Josh Green was hurt. They're pretty familiar with each other."
Dane Byers, Curtis Hamilton and Tanner House have been skating as a unit while the extra forwards have been Anton Lander, Kristians Pelss, Cameron Abney and Ryan Martindale.
"I'm going to try Josh Green with Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle and from there, all the lines look good it's just a matter of finding the right combinations."
- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com