TORONTO — After a 45-win, 99-point regular season and another eight victories in the playoffs, the Oklahoma City Barons' season is over after dropping a tight 3-1 Game 5 decision to the Toronto Marlies at Ricoh Coliseum to lose the best-of-seven AHL Western Conference Final in five games.
The Marlies now advance to the Calder Cup Final to face the Norfolk Admirals, while the Barons are left to rue a series loss where they likely deserved a better fate, or at very least a chance to play again on home ice.
“This is tough,” said Barons captain Bryan Helmer. “(The Marlies) played their system to a T and it just really wasn't meant to be for us.
“But we have a lot of good young players; many of them are going to go on to long careers in the NHL. I'm proud of our guys.”
Simon Gysbers blasted the winning goal from just inside the blue line and past Yann Danis at 8:38 in the third period.
The Barons pressed for much of the remaining time but finally fell by the wayside when Matt Frattin scored his second goal of the game into an empty net with time ticking down.
Earlier, Frattin had scored just 73 seconds into the game on a power play before the game settled into a long stretch that was evenly contested by both clubs.
Frattin, considered one of the Toronto Maple Leafs' best young prospects, now has 10 postseason goals.
With both teams a man short, Chris VandeVelde's goal off a scramble in the dying seconds of the second period tied the game at 1.
Even the tying marker, though, couldn't unshackle the Barons' offensive struggles as the Marlies came out for the third period killing off an important 4-on-3 Barons man-advantage.
From that point, the 7,515 fans basically willed the home team to victory on a sweltering hot spring evening.