Condors

Friday, Apr 11 2014 11:03 PM

Schaber scores in OT, lifts Condors in playoff chase

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    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    Condors' Jordan Knackstedt sets up a pass during first period action against Stockton Thunder Friday night at Rabobank Arena.

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  2. 2 of 14

    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    Condors' Jordan Knackstedt, left, has a shot blocked by Thunder goalie Parker Milner in the first period Friday night at Rabobank Arena.

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  3. 3 of 14

    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    Condors' Matt Thurber, left, and Thunder's Langdon Oslanski fight for position during first-period action Friday night at Rabobank Arena.

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  4. 4 of 14

    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    The Condors play the Thunder Friday night.

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    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    Condors' Greg Miller, right, is checked by a Thunder defender during action Friday night at Rabobank Arena.

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  6. 6 of 14

    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    Condors' Joel Broda waits for the referee to drop the puck in the first period Friday night at Rabobank Arena.

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    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    Condors' Matt Thurber, right, watches his shot as three Thunder players defend during first-period action Friday night at Rabobank Arena.

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  8. 8 of 14

    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    Condors' Chase Schaber, left, sets up a play as Thunder's Lee Baldwin defends during action Friday night at Rabobank Arena.

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  9. 9 of 14

    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    Condors' Greg Miller follows his shot as Thunder's goalie Parker Milner blocks in the first period Friday night at Rabobank Arena.

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  10. 10 of 14

    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    Condors' Spencer Bennett, center, follows his shot between Thunder's Jeremy Langios, right, and goalie Parker Milner during first-period action Friday night at Rabobank Arena.

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    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    Condors' Greg Miller, left and Thunder's Scott Langdon battle for the puck during first-period action at Rabobank Arena Friday night.

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    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    Thunder's goalie Parker Milner, left, blocks the puck as Condors' Spencer Bennett, center, and Thunder's Jeremy Langlois work for positon Friday night at Rabobank Arena.

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  13. 13 of 14

    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    Captain America was the key attraction prior to Friday night's hockey game between Stockton Thunder and the Condors. Posing with Captain America are Paul Reynolds, 7, left and Matthew Reynolds, 9.

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    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    Condors' Chase Schaber, front, and Thunder's Scott Langdon battle around the net in the first period Friday night at the Rabobank Arena.

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BY MIKE GRIFFITH Californian staff writer mgriffith@bakersfield.com

Chase Schaber didn't know how little time was left but he had an idea of where the net was.

So when he got the puck in the waning seconds of overtime on Friday night, he turned and fired.

It went past Stockton goaltender Parker Miner with 5.8 seconds left to lift the Condors over the Thunder 3-2 before 5,132 at Rabobank Arena.

The win locked up at least a sixth-seed for the Condors in the ECHL Western Conference for the first round of the playoffs which begin next week.

It was the fifth straight win for the Condors and two more wins in their final two games would vault them to the fifth seed.

Bakersfield will face either Utah or Idaho in the first round.

But that's next week and late Friday was a time to celebrate a bit.

The Condors sent the game to overtime when Chris Collins redirected a shot by Collin Bowman to tie the game 2-2 with 4:32 left in regulation.

Then came Schaber's dramatic game winner.

"I had no idea of the time, I don't even have a clue of what the time said after I scored that goal," Schaber said. "It was a good play. We were kind of just weaving back and forth in the offensive zone there, (Wes) Cunningham came down and created some confusion and Knacker (Jordan Knackstedt) threw it over to me in the slot.

"I just turned around, had to get a good sense of where the net was, and it squeezed through."

The goal capped a two-goal comeback as the Thunder led 2-0 with four minutes left in the second period.

"It's just a good indication that if we stick with the system and do what (coach Troy Mann) tells us what to do before the game we're going to get our chances and we're going to put the puck in the net like we did tonight," Schaber said of the comeback.

The Condors hit the post three times in the first period, missed a wide-open net on a power-play early in the second and then went down two goals to the Thunder.

"Maybe at the beginning of the year that kind of stuff would get inside your head," Schaber said. "But we have the horses in the room this time of year. This is crunch time. We're getting towards the best time of the year and when we know what our system can do. We use it to our advantage and just stick with it.

"If things aren't going our way somebody's going to get a bounce somewhere. Tonight was another example of that."

Former Condor Nicholas Tremblay scored the first goal of the game 9:19 into the second period off a Bakersfield turnover. The Condors lost the puck at the Stockton blue line during 4-on-4 play, and Tremblay raced in on a breakaway for his 10th goal.

Back-to-back penalties cost the Condors later in the period, with Joey Martin putting Stockton up 2-0 on a power-play goal at 15:33.

That goal came seconds after the Condors killed a 54-second, two-man advantage for the Thunder.

Bakersfield responded with its own power play goal with 1:51 left when Bowman scored from the point.

"I thought everybody competed hard and played well tonight," Mann said. "That's what it takes to win hockey games, especially at this time of the year and moving forward here starting next week."

Notes

Forward Michael Neal was waived on Friday. Mann said Neal was not happy with his role (out of the top six) and asked to be released. Neal had 32 points in 56 games but just one assist in his last nine games.

Assistant coach Ryan Murphy was not behind the bench on Friday night as he underwent a successful appendectomy earlier in the day.

The Alaska Aces clinched the top seed in the Western Conference with a 5-0 win over Colorado on Friday night. Ontario is the No. 2 seed. Also, Utah beat Idaho 3-2 which means the Grizzlies are the No. 3 seed and the Steelheads the No. 4 seed.

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