Oklahoma City Barons beat Utica Comets in fourth OT


The Oklahoma City Barons beat the Utica Comets shortly into the fourth overtime period in the opening game of their American Hockey League Calder Cup playoff game at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.

(Utica Comets photo by Lindsay A. Mogle)
Jacob Marstrom

The Oklahoma City Barons beat the Utica Comets shortly into the fourth overtime period in the opening game of their American Hockey League Calder Cup playoff game at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.

The teams were tied 1-1 going into the fourth OT of the Western Conference semifinal, with the Comets’ Jacob Markstrom and the Barons’ Richard Bachman waging a classic goalie duel.

Markstrom made 47 saves through 80 minutes, Bachman made 40, and both were more than spectacular on numerous occasions.

It was the fourth time in six playoff games the Comets had gone to overtime – they had three such games in their first-round victory over the Chicago Wolves – and the third time in four games for the Barons.

Kent Huskins, the Comets’ elder statesman, a defensive defenseman and 14-year pro who celebrated his 36th birthday Monday, got the Comets going when he snuck in from the left point – something he rarely does – and took a perfect pass from Darren Archibald to beat Richard Bachman at 17:10 of the first period. Brandon DeFazio started the play by winning the puck off the back wall and sliding it across to Archibald in the left corner.

Markstrom had to be very solid at the other end, turning aside 14 shots as the Barons controlled much of the action and had the majority of good chances.

The Barons pulled even in early in the second period. They turned the Comets over the neutral zone, Kellen Jones picked the puck up along the right boards and got in alone to beat Markstrom at 4:13.

Oklahoma City again had the territorial advantage, and a slight 14-13 edge in shots, but the Comets did test Bachman severely, with Carter Bancks, Brendan Gaunce and Cory Conacher being turned down on great chances. Markstrom was busy, too, and had particular good stops on C.J. Stretch dead in front and on David Musil bearing down the slot.

Markstrom and Bachman intensified their duel through the third period, with Markstrom making 12 saves, Bachman 10 and both having to be all but magical a handful of times. Bachman’s best might have been on an open Alex Friesen backhander just 2 minutes in, although he later had to stop Baertschi down deep and then Adam Clendening and Huskins on great chances. Markstrom had a bunch, too, taking one of his mask to stop a Brad Hunt blast, somehow getting a stick on a Mitch Moroz rebound, and dealing with a great chance by C.J. Stretch.

Both team had great chances in overtime – the Comets had an 11-8 edge in shots – and both goalies came up big several times again. Markstrom was stellar in stopping Kellen Jones’ wide-open backhander with seven minutes to play.

The wight-clad sellout crowd was fairly sedate for much of the game, but got into it in a big way in the extra period, especially when DeFazio more than energetically led the way in killing a penalty called on Adam Clendening at 6:13.

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