THE TEAM TODAY: Shake Up
Coach Nelson shakes up the line combos heading into this weekend's games
SHAKE-UPOKLAHOMA CITY - After a three-game set over three days this past weekend that saw the team go 1-1-1 (with a shootout loss), the Oklahoma City Barons returned to practice at the Cox Convention Center on Tuesday.
In a shake-up, head coach Todd Nelson scrambled his lines, putting each of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on separate lines in preparation for a clash with the Western Conference leading Abbotsford Heat Friday and Saturday.
Hall was on a line with Chris VandeVelde and Magnus Paajarvi. Eberle skated with Teemu Hartikainen and Mark Arcobello. Nugent-Hopkins was with Dane Byers and Tyler Pitlick.
"We're going to have extra bodies once again. We have our lines set up the way we want to right now for the first game and we'll just have to adjust them for Saturday," Nelson stated. "If we have a lot of success Friday night we might go with the same lineup on Saturday but it will be a situation where it's a game-by-game process."
The Barons won six of eight games against the Heat last season with some of the games getting heated for lack of a better term due to Abbotsford being the AHL affiliate of Calgary.
"We had very good games against them last year. We had some success, they had success. They're a team that's very structured. They're going to work hard," said Nelson, adding that the Battle of Alberta aspect is a factor not to be ignored, either.
Brandon Davidson, who is recovering from cancer treatment, did not skate. Josh Green (ribs) and Ryan Martindale did not, either. Martindale was injured in Friday's game against Houston.
"Marty tweaked his knee a bit. We're seeing how that's going to come about here in the next few days." said Nelson.
THE ANTON HAS LANDERED
Anton Lander was back on the ice, subbing in and out on a line with four other players -- Tyrvainen, House, Abney and Hamilton. Lander missed all three games on the weekend due to a bout with food poisoning.
"He practiced today. He still looks a bit pale. He said he felt good on the ice so hopefully he can get his nutrition back and feel a lot healthier," said Nelson.
Lander stated he was looking forward to getting back on the ice.
"It's going to be fun, especially to go back to Canada again and play," he said. "I'm really excited to go help them and get back in the lineup again."
The centre said he had a rough weekend.
"I didn't eat anything for two, three days and I was too tired to play video games, too," he chuckled. "Now I'm feeling better and the energy is starting to come back."
HUNTER BECOMES THE HUNTED
The Oklahoma City Barons signed forward Eric Hunter to an American Hockey League contract, General Manager Bill Scott announced today.
Barons head coach Todd Nelson liked what Hunter can add to the team, particularly his versatility.
"He's played in this league before and he's having a good season down there in Stockton. Just to have added depth is always good to have," said Nelson. "With two centres injured right now -- three if you include Lander's sickness. Hunter is able to play all three positions up front. It's a nice addition to call upon if need be."
Hunter, 26, signed with the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL during the summer, but attended training camp with the Barons in October. With Stockton, Hunter has six points (1-5-6) in nine games played. Last season, the 6-1, 194-pounder from Winnipeg, Manitoba played in 75 games with the Lake Erie Monsters and scored 16 points (6-10-16).
Prior to turning pro, Hunter played four seasons at the University of Alberta. In 105 games with the Golden Bears, he scored 98 points (40-58-98). Before attending the University of Alberta, he played five seasons with the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League. He scored 233 points (111-122-233) in 323 games played with the Cougars. Hunter’s 111 goals and 233 points are Cougars’ franchise records in those categories.
He has the unique distinction of being drafted twice. He was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 8th round (229th overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and in the 6th round (174th overall) by the New York Rangers in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com