Before the overtime period began Friday night, Oklahoma City Barons coach Todd Nelson informed the players on the bench they had clinched a playoff berth.
In a dramatic turn of events, the Barons rallied for a 4-3 overtime win over the Iowa Wild in front of 4,344 fans at the Cox Convention Center.
The other two teams fighting the Barons for the Western Conference’s No. 8 seed both lost about the same time Oklahoma City forced overtime.
“The run we got on late in the season was very dramatic,” Nelson said. “We’ve scored late goals to get games to overtime or score a game-winner late. They could make a movie about this late-season run because it was pretty incredible.”
The Barons compiled a 19-7-5 record the final three months of the season to advance to the American Hockey League playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.
Oklahoma City entered the weekend with a two-point lead over Rockford and Charlotte, who both lost. The IceHogs lost 5-3 to Chicago, the Checkers lost 5-1 at Milwaukee.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Roman Horak, who tied the game with 2:01 left in regulation, clinching a playoff berth. “We’re all extremely happy right now.”
Named the fan favorite during pregame ceremonies, C.J. Stretch scored the game-winner three minutes into overtime.
“It’s been a long season. There’s been a lot of ups and downs,” said team captain Anton Lander, named the team’s MVP. “When we lost 9-3 to Charlotte on Jan. 24 on the road, after that we came together and started playing hard for each other, finding ways to win games.”
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