Comets head home with 3-2 series lead

The Utica Comets will head home with two chances to advance to the conference finals after holding on for a 3-1 win over Oklahoma City at the Cox Convention Center on Thursday night.

The Comets lead the teams’ Western Conference semifinal series, three games to two. Utica hosts Game 6 on Monday and, if necessary, Game 7 on Wednesday.

Wacey Hamilton gave Utica a 1-0 lead at 12:13 of the first period, putting home the rebound of a Bobby Sanguinetti shot for his first goal of the postseason.

The Comets doubled their lead at 3:54 of the second when Alex Friesen found a trailing Peter Andersson at the left-wing point, and Andersson walked in and snapped a shot past Richard Bachman to make it 2-0.

Oklahoma City got a late power play and pulled Bachman for a 6-on-4 advantage, and Brad Hunt rifled a shot past Jacob Markstrom with 1:09 left in regulation to pull the Barons within 2-1.

But Alexandre Grenier restored the two-goal lead and put Game 5 away with an empty-net goal with 15.8 seconds to go.

Markstrom (6-4) made 33 saves on the night, falling 69 seconds short of his first career Calder Cup Playoff shutout.

Bachman (4-3) stopped 29 of 31 shots for the Barons.

Oklahoma City was 1-for-2 on the power play in Game 5, improving to 11-for-26 (42.3 percent) at home this postseason. Utica was 0-for-2.

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 at Utica, 7:00
*Game 7 – Wed., May 20 – Oklahoma City at Utica, 7:00
   *if necessary… All times Eastern