OKC Barons: Barons win, take 2-1 lead in Western Conference finals

Oklahoma City scores three goals in the first 17 minutes of Game 3, roll to 4-1 victory over Grand Rapids.
by Michael Baldwin Published: May 29, 2013
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photo - OKC's Chris VandeVelde, right, pushed the puck against Grand Rapids' Brennan Evans during AHL playoff action on Wednesday in Oklahoma City. Photo by Steven Christy, Oklahoma City Barons
OKC's Chris VandeVelde, right, pushed the puck against Grand Rapids' Brennan Evans during AHL playoff action on Wednesday in Oklahoma City. Photo by Steven Christy, Oklahoma City Barons

The Barons scored three goals in the first 17 minutes of Game 3 of the American Hockey League Western Conference finals Wednesday night at the Cox Convention Center.

The way Barons goaltender Yann Danis has been playing, it might as well been five or six goals.

Danis stopped all but one of the 21 shots shot he faced to lead Oklahoma City to a 4-1 win over Grand Rapids.

The Griffins spoiled Danis' attempt at his second shutout of the playoffs when Chad Billins scored with 4:54 remaining when Grand Rapids pulled its goaltender for an extra attacker.

“They scored on a lucky bounce. It went off one of our guy's stick,” Danis said. “What are you going to do? It was a win ... a huge win. You always hear how important it is to win Game 3 in a series. I felt we pretty much played a complete game.”

The Barons lead the best-of-7 series 2-1. Games 4 and 5 are scheduled Friday night and Saturday night at the Cox Convention Center.

“This puts us in a good spot for Friday night,” said Barons coach Todd Nelson. “That will be a huge game for both teams. It's a swing game. We want to keep the gas on. We just have to keep playing hard. We know how good a team they are.”

The Barons led 3-0 after the first and second periods. After Grand Rapids finally broke through, veteran Barons forward Jonathan Cheechoo clinched the win with an empty-net goal with 1:17 left.

A key stat has been Grand Rapids had outshot its opponent in every game the first two rounds but the Barons own a commanding 98-71 edge in shots on goal the first three games of this series.

OKC outshot the Griffins 33-21 on Wednesday after a 37-22 edge in Game 2.

“We're trying to be efficient breaking the puck out,” Nelson said. “Tonight, we had a rough go at the start but got better as the game went on. The big thing is managing the puck properly, getting pucks in deep and applying our forecheck. When we're forechecking well we usually have good zone time.”

The Barons led 3-0 after one period, but Nelson wasn't pleased.

“We were opportunistic,” Nelson said. “I thought we got some breaks, and some bounces went our way on all three goals. We had to straighten that out and play the right way. I felt we were taking some shortcuts.”


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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