The Western Conference semifinals will come down to a winner-take-all Game 7 after the Utica Comets fell 2-1 to the Oklahoma City Barons on Monday night at The Utica Memorial Auditorium. The Barons have now forced a Game 7 after tying up the best-of-seven series at three games apiece.
Sven Baertschi (1-0-1) was the only Comet to score in the contest. Richard Bachman once again proved his worth in the crease by stopping 33 of the 34 shots the Comets barraged him with.
With elimination lingering in the back of their minds, the Barons scored the first goal of the game just 5:23 into the opening period. Brad Hunt made a one-goal lead a reality after singlehandedly barging in towards the left of Jacob Markstrom and flipped a shot that snuck through Markstrom’s legs and trickled past the goal line.
It wasn’t until the third period, but Oklahoma did it again at 8:26 on what the Comets misinterpreted as a potential icing call. With defense on the lax, Ryan Hamilton quickly popped the puck over Markstrom’s glove hand. The puck darted over Markstrom’s glove for the two-goal lead and his fifth of the playoffs.
It was a little delayed but the Comets finally answered back with less than six minutes left in the game. Alex Friesen gave his team some hope after releasing a shot from the upper slot that initially looked as if Bachman swallowed it up. With Baertschi closing in on the blue paint, the puck re-appeared and the left-winger got a piece of it just before it trickled past the left post to make it a 2-1 game.
Even after chopping their deficit in half, the Comets couldn’t find another one and ended the game with their eighth one-goal game of the playoffs.
The series will finally be decided this Wednesday night at The AUD with the puck slated for 7 p.m.