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Barons hold on, force game seven

by George Darkow / Edmonton Oilers

UTICA, N.Y. — Behind a 33-save performance by goalie Richard Bachman, the Oklahoma City Barons defeated the Utica Comets 2-1 Monday night at the Utica Memorial Auditorium to force a seventh game in the best-of-seven AHL Calder Cup Playoffs Western Conference Semifinal round. Game seven is Wednesday at Utica.

Despite the Comets outshooting the Barons 34-21 for the game, and 25-8 in the final two periods, Bachman didn’t allow a goal until 14:13 of the final frame. Near the end of the second period, Utica managed to put a puck into the OKC net, but the goal was waved off due to interference.

Oklahoma City took an early 1-0 lead, when Brad Hunt picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and maneuvered around several Utica defenders before shoveling a backhand shot that trickled past Comets goalie Jacob Markstrom. The goal at 5:23 of the first period was Hunt’s third of the postseason.

After more than two periods worth of scoreless play, the Barons increased their lead to 2-0 at 8:26 of the third period. Following a Brad Hunt dump of the puck into the Utica zone, a carom off the end boards brought the puck back to a streaking Hamilton, who wristed a shot past Markstrom from the left-wing side. The goal was Hamilton’s team-high fifth postseason goal.

Utica cut Oklahoma City’s lead to 2-1 with 5:47 to play in regulation, when a save by Bachman on a shot by Alex Friesen was rebounded by Sven Baertschi, who flipped the puck past the Barons net minder as he dived to cover the vacated side of the net.

Despite a flurry of shots in the final moments of play, key blocks by Barons defenseman Dillon Simpson and center Connor Jones helped preserve Oklahoma City’s one-goal lead.

Game Six marked the eighth time in franchise history the Barons faced elimination in the Calder Cup Playoffs, with all eight occurring on the road. After Monday’s win, Oklahoma City is now 4-4 all-time in elimination games.

Oklahoma City has played one Game Seven in franchise playoff history, a 5-4 loss at Grand Rapids in the 2013 Western Conference Finals. Current Barons C.J. Stretch, Brandon Davidson and Martin Marincin took part in the game, with Davidson recording an assist.

Wednesday’s winner-take-all seventh game of the series is a 6 p.m. CDT start at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.

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