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Barons Lose to Stars, Series 1-1 out of 7

The Oklahoma City Barons have had a strong season so far. On May 11, they entered the Cedar Park Center in suburban Austin, Texas to face the Texas Stars again in Game 2 of their 7-game Western Conference semifinals series. The Barons secured a 2-1 overtime win on Thursday against the Stars, so they likely came into Saturday’s game with a bit of confidence, despite Texas being a top seed in the Calder Cup playoff run.

An interesting detail for tonight’s game was that, due to the building being occupied earlier on Saturday, neither team had ice available for a gameday morning skate.

The first period was high energy from the outset. Both the Barons and the Stars made some big hits and seemed determined to hustle the puck to where they needed it to be.

Oklahoma City’s Tyler Pitlick had a good shot a few minutes into the period, but Texas goalie Cristopher Nilstorp – who was phenomenal the whole game – made an excellent save. Darcy Hordichuk and Antti Tyrvainen likewise had some opportunities, and Mark Arcobello made a fantastic wrist shot, but nothing resulted from any of the Barons’ plays.

Texas was the first on the board with a goal at 17:52, when the Stars’ Justin Dowling got the puck with many Barons players too far away and managed to feed it to Mike Hedden for the goal. The Barons had a two-man advantage in the last minute of the first period, and though they had some great opportunities, they were unable to tie up the game, and closed the period trailing the Stars by one.

The Barons’ power-play continued into the second period, but they failed to convert it and soon both teams were at even strength again. A burst of energy came with a fight between Josh Green and Scott Glennie, with Green dropping his gloves on behalf of his teammate Taylor Fedun, who was checked from behind with a fairly hard hit.

Jonathan Cheechoo made some good plays and was alert on the rebound, but Nilstorp was an absolute wall and the Barons could get nothing past him.  About halfway through the game, though the Barons still hadn’t been able to tie up the score, the Stars’ defense seemed to be slowing a bit as the Barons beat them to the puck for several chances.

Barons Lose to Stars, Series 1-1 out of 7
The Texas Stars managed just their third goal in seven periods against the Barons but it was enough as Nilstorp shut the door repeatedly on OKC down the stretch. The series now shifts north to Oklahoma City.
(Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

However, towards the end of the second period Joe Morrow buried a shot from the left past Barons goalie Yann Danis, who unfortunately just didn’t see the shot at all. Jones tried to get to the puck to prevent it, but missed it, and Morrow brought the Stars to a 2-0 lead with his fairly unassuming wrist-shot on the top corner.

The Barons really needed to take some more chances and amp up their energy even more to get a goal that would provide some necessary momentum. The hits favored Texas in the second period, demonstrating that the Stars were playing a lot more aggressively, and it was paying off for them.

In the third period, the Barons continued to struggle against the Stars, who were playing a very physical game and not allowing Oklahoma City to rally. Arcobello got a promising opportunity about halfway through the third period, but Nilstorp made another big save to maintain Texas’ lead.

With only about two minutes left in the game, the Barons pulled Danis for an extra attacker. The Barons were really putting some pressure on the Stars, this time with tangible results. Arcobello, who had several good chances in the game, finally managed to get the puck past Nilstorp to bring the Barons back into the game. With a burst of energy, they might have had just enough time to pull out a tie and take the game into overtime. Despite their strong effort, however, the game ended 2-1 with a victory for Texas.

The Barons have been reducing the goals against fairly dramatically and doing well so far, however the Stars managed to tie up the series with their 2-1 victory in tonight’s game, bringing the Barons and Stars to 1-1 with one win each.

The teams will meet again in Oklahoma City on Monday, May 13 for Game 3 in the series.

 

Adrianna Szenthe

Adrianna Szenthe

Adrianna is a graduate student at the University of Chicago. Having previously worn blue and orange in a city of die-hard Canadiens supporters, she feels confident she can contend with a city of Blackhawks fans. While she defends her beloved Oilers, she is fond of reminding everyone that hockey was, after all, invented in Canada. Since she's not able to make a killer slapshot, writing about them seems the next best thing.
Adrianna Szenthe

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