The Texas Stars posted the best home record in the American Hockey League this season, which makes the Oklahoma City Barons’ task challenging.
Down 2-0 in a best-of-five, first-round Calder Cup playoff series, the Barons must win three consecutive road games to stave off elimination, starting with a 7:30 matchup Wednesday night at the Cedar Park Center.
“It’s obvious we can’t look any further than Wednesday night,” said Barons coach Todd Nelson. “Our focus is to win one game. If we win that one, then we’ll worry about the next one.”
It’s a daunting task to win Games 3, 4 and 5 on the road, but the Barons point to a two-game series three months ago, two road wins in the Austin suburb that helped propel them to their fourth consecutive playoff berth.
The one positive from identical 3-2 overtime losses in Games 1 and 2 in the Cox Convention Center was the Barons never trailed until the end.
“We’ve dug ourselves a hole, but we’ve always played well there,” Nelson said. “We’ve had chance to win the first two games.”
Texas finished 29-8-1 at the Cedar Park Center. The nine combined home losses were the fewest in the 30-team AHL.
But back on Feb. 2 and Feb. 4, the first two games Mark Arcobello played with the Barons after spending the first three months of the season with the Edmonton Oilers, the Barons handed the Stars two of those home losses. The Barons won 7-4 on a Sunday afternoon followed by a 5-2 win two days later.
“That’s huge,” said Barons defenseman Brad Hunt. “That puts a little seed of doubt in their heads that they know we can win there. Plus, it gives us confidence knowing we can win in that building. Even our past two games down there were really close.”