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By John Harte / Special to The Californian
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By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian
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By Nick Ellis/Special to the Californian
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By Mike Griffith / The Bakersfield Californian
When it comes to playoffs, Condors coach Troy Mann said there are really no surprises.
So when the puck drops tonight in West Valley City, Utah, for the Game 1 of the ECHL Western Conference first-round matchup between the Condors and Grizzlies, both teams know what they are in for.
"They put their structure in place in October, just like us," Mann said. "You're not going to invent the wheel at this time of the year.
"It's all about execution, executing the game plan. If you execute the game plan and minimize mistakes, especially turnovers, that team is ultimately going to win the series.
"You do have to have some puck luck in playoffs, too. You do have to make your breaks but playoffs is a battle of wills. How bad are you willing to pay the price to win the hockey game?
"Some teams have it, some teams don't. Those that do generally make longer playoff runs."
The Condors and Grizzlies mirror each other in many areas.
"Look at the numbers," Mann said. "We're very similar in goals against; shots against are close, the penalty kills are close. Those areas mean you're usually in the game and have a chance to win. There's five to six areas we're very similar.
"We're almost playing against the type of team we are."
Not lost in the similarities is goaltending. Bakersfield's Laurent Brossoit led the league in goals-against (2.01) and save percentage (.926) and was runner-up for goalie of the year honors.
Utah's Igor Bobkov and Arron Dell were close behind. Bobkov, who is currently in the American Hockey League, was second in goals against (2.01) and had a .921 save percentage. Dell's GAA was 2.14 and he had a .921 save percentage.
"The goaltending matchup is certainly a key," Mann said. "I hate to keep harping on goaltending, but it's the most important component of winning."