OKC Barons: Barons have a tough assignment

Oklahoma City has to win Games 6 and 7 at Grand Rapids to advance to the Calder Cup finals.
by Michael Baldwin Published: June 3, 2013
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photo - Oklahoma City Barons defender Garrett Stafford reacts to having a goal disallowed versus the Grand Rapids Griffins in the fourth game of the Western Conference finals of the AHL on June 1, 2013. Photo by KT KING, The Oklahoman ORG XMIT: OKC1306012126361033
Oklahoma City Barons defender Garrett Stafford reacts to having a goal disallowed versus the Grand Rapids Griffins in the fourth game of the Western Conference finals of the AHL on June 1, 2013. Photo by KT KING, The Oklahoman ORG XMIT: OKC1306012126361033

In March, April and May Oklahoma City won two out of every three road games.

A sparkling 10-2-2 road record the final two months of the regular season sparked a late-season rally needed just to qualify for the playoffs. In the playoffs, the Barons are 4-3 on the road.

“Obviously we wish we would have gotten at least one more at home, but we've won there before,” Vande Velde said. “We're going to go play two strong games. We have nothing to lose. Let's go there and try to get two wins.”

Despite the recent drought against Mrazek the Barons still have four of the top 10 scorers in the playoffs. And they might be getting Anton Lander back for Game 6. Lander has been sidelined three weeks with a knee injury he suffered in Game 3 of the second-round series against the Texas Stars.

The way the Barons view it, two No. 1 caliber lines are due to break out of an offensive slump.

The line of Jonathan Cheechoo, Mark Arcobello and Philippe Cornet had a few scoring chances in Game 5. Teemu Hartikainen, Toni Rajala and either C.J. Stretch or Lander is a line capable of scoring a couple of goals in a game.

“We'll play with confidence. We know we have success when we're doing things right,” Cornet said. “The reason we were scoring goals the first three games was because we were driving the net a lot more in front of Mrazek where he couldn't step up and stop it. We've just got to go back to basics.”

Road success late in the season gives the Barons confidence.

Losing Games 4 and 5 was the first time the Barons have lost back-to-back games in regulation since mid-January, a span of 51 games.

Oklahoma City must win back-to-back road games or the season will end in the Western Conference finals for the second consecutive season.

“This is a good opportunity for us to go back to Grand Rapids,” Cornet said. “We had success there. We lost Game 1 but played a really good game. We won Game 2. We just have to keep it simple. We have to win the first one. If we win the first one, then I like our chances to win the series.”

by Michael Baldwin
Reporter
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
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