One goal was all the Utica Comets needed Wednesday night as they secured a spot in the Calder Cup’s Western Conference Final after eliminating the Oklahoma City Barons 1-0 in Game 7 at The Utica Memorial Auditorium.
After losing Game 6, Jacob Markstrom had another bounceback performance as he shutout the Barons and stopped all 35 of the shots the Barons unloaded on him. Alexandre Grenier (1-0-1) was the offensive hero for the Comets as he netted his second game-winning goal of the series.
Since 1992, teams that have scored first in the Game 7’s have gone 47-13. With that statistic in the back of their minds, the Comets kept it a 0-0 game until the 7:11 mark in the third and final period.
“You want to get the first goal in a game seven. There was a lot of emphasis on that,” said Head Coach Travis Green.
It only took three consecutive shots but Grenier was able to find the rebound just inside the blue paint as he knocked the puck past the Barons netminder, Richard Bachman that gave the Comets all that they needed to walk away with the win. Both Travis Ehrhardt and Alex Biega were credited with the assists.
With the shutout, Jacob Markstrom became the second goalie in American Hockey League history with a 1-0 Game 7 shutout, joining Cleveland’s Johnny Bower who achieved the same feat in the 1953 Finals.
After bringing both of their first two rounds to the brink, the Comets have played a total of 12 games with nine of them being one-goal games. In those nine games the Comets have gone 5-4 this postseason.
Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals begins this Sunday at The Utica Memorial Auditorium, as the Comets will host the Grand Rapids Griffins at 7 p.m.