Welcome to the Keller & Mark show. Barons beat the Rampage 4-3. Toronto Marlies are next on the agenda. Photo courtesy of Steven Christy. All rights reserved.
Game five between Oklahoma City and San Antonio was bound to be heated, anxious, and desperate. And indeed, at times, this one was wildly entertaining because of those things. Although the Barons needed an overtime session to finish off the Rampage in three straight games, thanks to the Mark Arcobello and Ryan Keller show, and a very good power play, the Barons won in regulation 4-3.
The game began with a very good pace. But then both teams slowed slightly, kept pushing, and eventually it was the Barons that hit the scoreboard first. With less than two minutes left in the first period,the Barons found themselves on their first power play of the game. Philippe Cornet digs the puck out of the corner, and shuffles the puck to Dylan Yeo on the boards. Yeo then passes it to Ryan Keller on the high right side. Keller takes a high quality slap shot that ricochets off Jacob Markstrom, and is put back in my Mark Arcobello. The goal was registered with 4 seconds left in the first period. The Barons head to the locker room with a 1-0 lead.
The second period began, and San Antonio gave Oklahoma City two straight PP opportunities. Eventually, on the second extra skater chance, Bryan Rodney shoots the puck two feet from the blue line, and it whizzes around Jacob Markstrom. Suddenly OKC has a rare two goal lead.
But that lead didn't last long. Keller hooks a Rampage player, and the San An power play makes some really great passes. It was Michael Repik, receiving a great pass from Bracken Kearns, that inched the Rampage back to life. The second period ends with a score of 2-1 still favoring OKC.
To start the third, the Barons win an offensive zone face-off which ends up on the stick of Hunter Tremblay behind the net. Tremblay attempts a wrap around on Markstrom, it bounces of the goaltenders blocker, and into the hands of Ryan Keller. And just like that, the Barons are back up by two. Now 3-1.
But the Rampage roared back quickly scoring back-to-back goals less than 25 seconds apart. One from Scott Timmons, and another from Mark Cullen to tie the game. The crowd woke up, the Rampage got desperate, but Oklahoma City never folded.
It's at this point in the game that Yann made some fantastic saves, and the PK killed both a 4 on 3 and a 5 on 4 to keep the Barons in control.
The death sentence for San Antonio came when Michal Repik was called for goaltender interference at 16:23 of the third. Cornet and Arcobello moved the puck towards the goal, with the final pass coming from behind the extended goal line. The pass gets through to Ryan Keller who takes a close-in shot that gets deflected into the air. He then takes a swing at the puck in mid-air, it connects, and he finds the back of the net. The Barons take the 4-3 lead with a little over two minutes remaining in the game.
The Barons tightened defensively, and eventually secured the victory. Four straight victories for the Barons, three in overtime, ends the Western Conference Semi-Finals, and secures a trip to meet the Marlies in the Western Finals.
What a gutsy performance by the Barons forwards who were able to go 3/4 on the power play, but most importantly take high quality shots. Knowing full well that Markstrom gives up a lot of rebounds, the team shot the puck, and then tailed those shots as they soared towards the net.
The Rampage have had a remarkable season. They have the type of offense that certainly could have been Calder Cup winning material. It's on defense that things get shaky. And despite having a solid goaltender in Markstrom, in the end he just gave up too many second chances. And thus the series ends in favor of the Barons.