Even down 2-0, those pesky Barons wouldn’t go away. Oklahoma City tied the game at 3:24 of the third period but it wasn’t enough as the Texas Stars close out the series with a 4-2 win.
It’s been a season filled with adversity for the Barons, who battled through injuries, inexperience and roster turmoil. But it is also a season to be celebrated as Head Coach Todd Nelson and company spurred the Edmonton Oilers’ American Hockey League affiliate to a late season surge and eventual playoff berth.
“I couldn’t be more proud of these guys,” Nelson said following the loss. “They always kept on coming. When you go back to when we were in 14th place and it looked like the playoff picture wasn’t going to happen for us, but our guys just kept on coming, kept fighting back. We fought our way into the playoffs by making late-game comebacks, the same thing was happening tonight. The two games in Oklahoma City could have went either way but that’s the way the series goes sometimes. But our guys never stopped, even when they scored to make it 3-2, we kept on coming and it was just unfortunate. I’d like to see the series go longer but you’ve got to give Texas credit, they’re the regular season’s best team in the league and I think they have a great opportunity to go all the way.”
The Barons lost the first two games of the series in overtime and had the opportunity to steal Wednesday night’s game as well but couldn’t close the gap on the top-seeded Stars.
|Photo provided by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars |
“It’s a little disheartening but overall I’m real happy with the guys and real proud of them for getting to this point and giving the best team in the league a real run this round,” OKC goalie Richard Bachman said.
Brendan Ranford scored at 7:16 of the opening period to give the Stars the 1-0 lead.
At 1:55 of the second frame, the Barons would dig themselves a 2-0 hole as Chris Mueller converted on a Toby Peterson pass for the score. It was the Stars first multi-goal lead of the series, a credit to the underdog Barons and their efforts in the series.
The Barons, much like they did all season, battled back. Oilers prospect and Barons Captain Anton Lander scored shorthanded at 8:54 of the second. He was assisted by Austin Fyten and Oscar Klefbom.
Brad Hunt scored the game-tying goal at 3:24 of the third period and things began looking up for the Barons.
“I thought we played hard,” Nelson said. “I thought both teams played hard and it was a good hockey game. It was back and forth and they got up on us 2-0 and give credit to our guys, they never stopped. We battled back to tie up the game. It was just one of those games where once we tied it up, we were coming and then we got into penalty trouble and they capitalized on their second 5-on-3 of the night.”
Justin Dowling scored the go-ahed goal at 11:21 on the two-man advantage and that would be the deciding tally as Texas scored the empty-net goal at 19:00 to seal the Barons’ fate.
“It’s tough,” Bachman said. “You can’t use any excuse. You’ve got to try and find a way to kill those penalties. You hate to see that many penalties in a playoff game, in a close game and a must-win for us. You don’t want to be on that side of it, taking that many penalties. It’s hard. It’s hard to get momentum when you’re doing that and that was a little bit of the case tonight but I thought we did a great job on a lot of them. We made a lot of big kills and timely kills but it just didn’t go in our favour in the end.”
The Barons would most certainly like to get this series back but can walk away from the season proud of how they made the playoffs and how the performed when nobody gave them any chance.
“I’m really proud with this group,” Lander said. “It’s a great group of guys and they’ve been playing hard for each other and for the coaches. (The coaches have) been doing a terrific job for us players and (OKC is) a great spot to be at.”