BY MIKE GRIFFITH Californian staff writer mgriffith@Bakersfield.com
What a difference a week makes.
A week ago the Condors flew home from Boise after losing two games to the Idaho Steelheads by a combined 15-5 score.
Today, they play in San Francisco on a two-game winning streak after beating that same Steelheads team by a combined 11-2 at Rabobank Arena.
But in the post NHL lockout world of the ECHL, the Steelheads, and many other teams, are not the powers they once were as numerous players have been recalled to the American Hockey League.
The Condors took full advantage of a weakened Idaho team on Saturday night, once again putting on a power-play clinic in a 6-2 victory before 4,730.
The goal output was the most for the Condors this season.
The Condors (10-25-3) now trail San Francisco by eight points as they try to climb into the final playoff position.
"It's a quick turnaround," O'Dette said of today's game. "Three games in a 21/2 nights but we've got some momentum, we've got some confidence going. It's where we want to be heading to a big game tomorrow afternoon."
After getting three power play goals in Friday night's 5-0 blanking, the Condors upped the ante by netting four power plays goals Saturday night, their highest total this season.
Forward Nicholas Tremblay, who joined the Condors on Thursday night and skated for the first time this season on Friday night, had a pair of goals (and a four-point night) and defenseman Kyle Haines had two power-play goals for a suddenly potent Condors team.
“Special teams is a major factor in the game nowadays,” O’Dette said. “You have to have your power-play going, you have to have your penalty kill going to win hockey games. Those early power-play goals again really set the tone for us.”
Haines, who had a power-play goal Friday night, got things started for the Condors when he scored on a 5-on-3 power play five minutes into the game. The Steelheads countered with a goal two minutes later to tie the game but it was all Condors after that, thanks to the power play.
Defenseman Deron Cousens scored a power-play goal to put the Condors up 2-1 with 2:40 left in the first and Haines got his second with 23 seconds left in the period. Tremblay's first goal came even strength seven minutes into the second and he added a power-play goal at 11:55 as the Condors rolled out to a 5-1 lead.
“Haines is a solid two-way defenseman we needed,” O’Dette said. “Tremblay ... when you lose a guy like Max Campbell (to Europe) that hurts you but you change him with Tremblay and I think we upgraded there. He looks fantastic. Two games off the couch and he's doing that already. We’re really happy to have both those guys.”
Tyler Brenner added another goal midway though the third period for his second in as many nights and Idaho scored a short-handed goal in the waning seconds.
Brian Stewart stopped 39 shots to get the win for the Condors, who went 4-for-13 on the power play.
The Condors left for San Francisco after Saturday night’s game. They conclude a set of three games in three days with a 2:15 p.m. game against the Bulls.
The movement of players going from the ECHL to the AHL or NHL continues to grow daily and has now surpassed 100. That is the equivalent of five full ECHL teams. Idaho goaltender Tyler Beskorowany, who played in Bakersfield's 5-0 win on Friday night, was recalled to Texas (AHL) on Saturday. Elmira and Florida each lost six players to the AHL on Saturday.
Nine teams have lost six players in the past few days.