For OKC coach Todd Nelson, this season must seem like a series of stanza’s, influenced heavily by the players flying in and out of town. It looks like the coach may finally have his horses.
(OKC photos by Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved).
Toni Rajala (#25) might not be the tallest recruit on the OKC roster but that young man is turning heads whenever he hits the ice. For coach Todd Nelson, Rajala is one of several players from Stockton (ECHL) who are now contributing in a big way at the AHL level. From the Thunder roster, Rajala is joined by Phil Cornet, Nathan Deck, Ryan Martindale and Kristians Pelss as notable contributors to the hockey club since the NHLers left town.
Barons GM Bill Scott has been busy too, bringing in Brett Clark and Jonathan Cheechoo via PTO’s and helping Nelson cobble together a solid AHL calibre roster.
THINGS HAVE CHANGED
The roster turnover has been incredible this season for the Barons. The lockout gave the club incredible riches, but also made it difficult to find chemistry when the lockout ended. The club spent much of January bleeding, as new roles for less capable players meant an adjustment period. Here’s a look at the difference between the two rosters, beginning with RNH’s final game for the Barons:
November 30, 2012 Barons GD Roster
- L1: RNH-Hall-Eberle
- L2: Arcobello-Cornet-Paajarvi
- L3: Lander-Byers-Hartikainen
- L4: Eric Hunter-Toni Rajala-Curtis Hamilton
- D1: Marincin-Schultz
- D2: Fedun-Teubert
- D3: Henry-Plante
- GOAL: Danis-Roy
February 1, 2013 Barons GD Roster
- L1: Arcobello-Cornet-Cheechoo
- L2: Martindale-Paajarvi-Tyrvainen
- L3: VandeVelde-Pelss-Rajala
- L4: Green-Byers-House
- D1: Clark-Marincin
- D2: Deck-Plante
- D3: Andrew Hotham-Teubert
- GOAL: Niko Hovinen, Olivier Roy (Danis in the pressbox)
Two months is a long time for a hockey club, but the roster turnover is incredible. From the November 30th team, the entire top line, plus Lander and Justin Schultz are in the NHL. The ECHL kids are making hay in the AHL now and of course the two Bill Scott pickups (Clark, Cheechoo) are having a big impact.
ABOUT LAST NIGHT
Jonathan Cheechoo tied a Barons record (held by Linus Omark and Jordan Eberle) with a 5-point game (1g, 4a) and his line (Mark Arcobello, Phil Cornet) combined for 13 points in the win over Charlotte. The ECHL kids (specifically Pelss and Rajala, along with Cornet) had an impact and the blue was solid across the board. New goalie Niko Hovinen was effective, especially in a busy third period.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
The Barons have employed a total of 39 players so far this season–basically two teams. It has taken some time and a lot of miles for coach Todd Nelson, GM Bill Scott and the Oilers organization to get their house in order. Last night suggests it has been worth the effort.