Comets Get OT Revenge to Even Series
by Mark Caswell, Jr.May 8, 2015
For the second time in as many nights, overtime was necessary to settle the game between the Utica Comets and Oklahoma City Barons. This time, overtime wielded much better results for the home team after a tip-in goal gave the Comets a 2-1 victory over the Barons at the Utica Memorial Auditorium on Friday night. The Comets have now evened up the series 1-1 with a win in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
Alexandre Grenier (1-1-2) was the hero of tonight’s game with the game-winning overtime goal and an assist on Adam Clendening’s (1-1-2) equalizer in the third period. Jacob Markstrom kept the Barons quiet after letting in one during the first period. Markstron, the first star of the game, stopped 22 of the Barons’ 23 shots on goals and lowered his playoff goals against average to 1.62.
The Jones twins put the Comets behind early in the game after a first period goal that saw Kellen Jones receive an assist on Connor Jones’ rebound goal at the 8:10 mark. The twins added another tally to their identical point total (3) in the five games Oklahoma City has played thus far in the playoffs.
After a scoreless and evenly fought second period, Utica got the home crowd standing on their feet for the first time since the beginning stanza of Game 1. Clendening came to the rescue just 1:31 into the third period with a slapshot from the right point. With traffic in front, the puck slipped through Richard Bachman to give the Comets the equalizer. Alexandre Grenier was credited with the primary assist, and Cal O’Reilly grabbed the secondary assist.
Déjà vu blanketed The AUD as the clock winded down in regulation with a 1-1 tally remaining on the scoreboard.
Unlike Thursday, only one overtime period was necessary as Grenier tipped in a shot from Clendening between the left post and Bachman’s leg pad for the 2-1 overtime game-winning goal at 3:23. Cal O’Reilly also tallied an assist for his second of the game and his ninth of the playoffs.
After playing nine full periods of hockey (and then some) split between two games, the Comets and the Barons will continue the Western Conference Semifinals (Game 3) in Oklahoma City this coming Monday at the Cox Convention Center at 8 p.m. ET.
Three Stars: 1. UTI– Jacob Markstrom (22 Saves, Win) 2. UTI – Alexandre Grenier (1 Goal, 1 Assist) 3. OKC– Richard Bachman (36 Saves)
Tonight at The AUD: Just hours after Game 1 ended it’s time to rub the sleep dust out of their eyes and get ready for Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals, between the Utica Comets and the Oklahoma City Barons.
Tonight’s match-up features the regular season Western Conference leaders, the Utica Comets (#1 seed) vs. the Oklahoma City Barons (#6 seed) in what will be a best-of-seven series between the two clubs. The Barons hold a 1-0 series advantage.
No Rest for the Weary: Last night’s game stretched into the wee hours of today and ended at 12:14am. The four overtime game lasted 120 minutes and 16 seconds, the sixth-longest game in the history of the American Hockey League. The Barons emerged victorious with a 2-1 win, and 1-0 series lead, after a fluttering shot from Curtis Hamilton snuck its way past Markstrom.
WHITEout Effect: The Comets asked that fans WHITEout The AUD for all playoff games, and boy are they off to a hot start. The WHITEout serves as a rallying cry, and shows support to the players wearing WHITE on the ice. Add the WHITEout intimidation factor in with the ear-splitting noise the Comets faithful brings to the game, and you have a decided edge in favor of the home team. The atmosphere created by the “5th Line” is a unique element, and Utica fans will once again need to make their presence known throughout the playoffs just like they have all season. During sellouts at The AUD the Comets won 17 out of 28 games (61%) with the help of their fans.
Regular Season: The Barons and the Comets only met twice during the regular season and split it down the middle. The first took place in Oklahoma on Dec. 2nd where the Comets fell 1-0 defensive battle that was decided in overtime. The Comets took their turn in the win column this past March and made up for their first meeting with a 4-2 win at The AUD.
Who to watch – Barons: All eyes must be on Richard Bachman tonight. Last night he stole the show with 56 saves, many of them of the highlight variety. The All-Star reserve goaltender has been unbeatable through the playoffs and has only allowed two goals in over 11 periods of play after relieving Laurent Brossoit in Game 2 of the Conference Quarterfinals. His 0.54 goals against average, and .982 save percentage easily paces goaltenders in the AHL playoffs.
Who to watch – Comets: Jacob Markstrom. The Barons threw everything, including the kitchen sink, the lawn garden gnome, and the dresser, at the Comets net last night, and Markstrom was there for just about everything. His 65 save performance set a new personal record for saves in a game. The Gavle, Sweden native has only built on his stellar regular season performance thus far through the playoffs, and has posted a 1.71 goals against average through 6 games.
Crack Open the History Book: As previously mentioned, last night’s 4OT thriller was the sixth-longest game in AHL history. Here’s where they compared by time:
- April 14, 2008 – Philadelphia 3 @ Albany 2 – 142:58
- May 30, 2003 – Houston 1 @ Hamilton 2 – 134:56
- April 10, 1982 – Rochester 2 @ New Haven 3 – 134:08
- April 4, 1938 – Syracuse 3 @ Cleveland 2 – 122:42
- April 14, 1953 – Cleveland 2 @ Pittsburgh 3 – 121:46
- May 7, 2015 – Oklahoma City 2 @ Utica 1 – 120:16
- March 28, 1939 – Providence 3 @ Cleveland 2 – 119:47
Spread the Love: The Comets well-balanced offensive attack features 13 players (12 forwards, 1 defenseman) who scored double-digit goals this season, which is the most in the American Hockey League this season.
Prepare the Nerves: Utica and Oklahoma City got to the playoffs this year by being two of the league’s top “cardiac” teams. Utica paced the league in one-goal games (43), and wins in one-goal games (24-10-7-2). OK City only played in 33 one-goal games, but 22 of those games needed overtime to settle things. The Barons’ won 14 of those 22 games en route to the 2015 playoffs.
Complete Coverage: Can’t listen to Brendan Burke or watch the game on AHL Live? No problem! Just follow us on @UticaComets or @CometsInGame on Twitter and we’ve got you covered with live up to the minute updates and instant videos of all the Comets goals.
#BuiltForThisMoment: It’s your turn to show us how you celebrate during a Comets game, whether it’s at The AUD, on your couch or at the bar. Submit your videos by posting them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and including the hashtag #BuiltForThisMoment for a chance to have your video after the game concludes.
Game 3 – The Comets head to Oklahoma City for Game 3 scheduled for Monday night at the Cox Convention Center.