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Barons push back, force Game 7

Richard Bachman made 33 saves as the Oklahoma City Barons staved off elimination with a 2-1 win over the Utica Comets in Game 6 of their Western Conference semifinal series at the Utica Memorial Auditorium on Monday night.

The teams play a decisive Game 7 on Wednesday in Utica, with the winner advancing to meet Grand Rapids in the Western Conference Finals.

Bachman was outstanding throughout Game 6, especially as the Barons were being outshot 25-8 over the final two periods of the contest.

Brad Hunt gave Oklahoma City a 1-0 lead at the 5:23 mark of the opening period, slipping a backhand shot from the right side past Jacob Markstrom for his third goal of the playoffs and third this series.

Oklahoma City finished the first with a 13-9 edge in shots on goal, but the rest of the game heavily favored the host Comets as they pressed to tie. Utica outshot the Barons 12-3 in the second period and had a 9-1 advantage in the third when Oklahoma City finally doubled its lead.

Ryan Hamilton won a race to a loose puck off a Hunt dump-in and snapped a quick shot that beat Markstrom with 11:34 remaining, giving the Barons a 2-0 cushion. It was the fifth goal of the playoffs for the Barons captain.

Alex Friesen breathed life into the Comets with 5:47 left in the third period, on their 32nd shot of the game. Barons goaltender Richard Bachman got a big piece of Friesen’s wrister from above the right-wing circle, but not enough to stop it from trickling over the goal line for Friesen’s third goal of the postseason.

Utica kept pressuring – Alexandre Grenier’s one-timer hit the post with 3:35 left – but the Barons held on to force Game 7.

Bachman (5-3) raised his playoff save percentage to .950 and was named the game’s first star.

Markstrom (6-5) stopped 19 shots and took the loss despite allowing no more than two goals for the ninth time in 11 starts this postseason.

Western Conference Semifinals – Series “K” (best-of-7)
1-Utica Comets vs. 6-Oklahoma City Barons

Game 1 – Thu., May 7 – Oklahoma City 2, UTICA 1 (4OT)
Game 2 – Fri., May 8 – UTICA 2, Oklahoma City 1 (OT)
Game 3 – Mon., May 11 – Utica 3, OKLAHOMA CITY 2
Game 4 – Wed., May 13 – OKLAHOMA CITY 7, Utica 4
Game 5 – Thu., May 14 – Utica 3, OKLAHOMA CITY 1
Game 6 – Mon., May 18 – Oklahoma City 2, UTICA 1
Game 7 – Wed., May 20 – Oklahoma City at Utica, 7:00
   *if necessary… All times Eastern