After a low scoring, but high energy game the night before, the Oklahoma City Barons and the Grand Rapids Griffins turned their eyes towards game number two on Saturday night. The Griffs dominated the play early in game one, and the Barons were determined to not let that happen again.
In the first period Oklahoma City owned much of the offensive play, but it was the “tough” mentality that surprised the most. Jonathan Cheechoo, Josh Green, and a few others were really going to the body of Grand Rapids players. Unfortunately for OKC, when you dish it out, you get it in return. Hits aside, it was a really good period for Oklahoma City. Yann looked sharp. Defense looked poised. Offense was smart, and quick. But again, it was the Griffins who’d score first. Late in the first, Tomas Tatar would net the games first goal. The period would end with the Griffs on top, 1-0.
To start the second, Triston Grant became both a blessing and a curse for his team. He’d start with the blessing by leveling a Baron around the boards. Moments later, he’d be whistled for hooking. Immediately the Barons would strike on the power play, something they were unable to do in game one. C.J. Stretch, off a rebounded shot from Josh Green at the point, beat Mrazek to make it 1-1.
Tomas Tatar, whom scored the first goal, continued to press the puck mightily, but the Barons were able to counter-attack and soften the blows of the Griffs rush. A couple of penalties eventually led to a moment where former Baron, Triston Grant, undercut a Baron and Eager, Tyrvainen, and Hartikainen all simultaneously took exception. The ensuing power play for the Griffins was quickly killed by the Barons. Things started to get chippy towards the end, and THIS is the type of game we thought we might see. Scoring the only goal of the frame, the Oklahoma City Barons would inch themselves back to a tie game with Grand Rapids.
Cue “Don’t Stop Believin'”
A minute into period number three, Temmu Hartikainen, a left shot, takes a wildly accurate shot from the right wing and puts his team up 2-1 in the early throws of the third period. Amazing assist credited to Toni Rajala. Just as quickly as the Barons took the lead, the Griffins roared back via a breakaway that Yann Danis bit hard on. Tied at 2-2, the game sped up, and felt like both sides were suddenly rumbling downhill. Mark Arcobello, scoring his tenth of the postseason, would deflect a puck that went high into the air, before landing on his stick. They’d beat Mrazek for the third time, and take a 3-2 lead as the halfway point of the final frame approached. C.J. Stretch would goad Tomas Tatar into taking matching roughing minors, and the teams would play wide-open 4 on 4 hockey for a spell. With 2:30 left, Grand Rapids was continuously eye-balling the scoreboard realizing it was time to dig in for the finale. Under a minute, Griffs call a time-out, rally the troops, and nothin’ doin’. Oklahoma City scores an empty netter.
The Oklahoma City Barons would defeat the Grand Rapids Griffins, 4-2, and take game two of the West Finals. The series shifts to OKC for games three, four, and five. Series tied at a game apiece.