Condors

Saturday, Feb 01 2014 01:19 AM

Grizzlies still making things hard for Condors

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    By John Harte / Special to The Californian

    Condor Ryan Little and Martin Lee battled for the puck near the Grizzlies' goal during the first period against Utah at Rabobank Arena Friday night.

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    By John Harte / Special to The Californian

    Condor Chris Collins breaks free as he is held up by Teigan Zahn during the first period against Utah at Rabobank Arena Friday night.

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    By John Harte / Special to The Californian

    Condor Jordan Knackstedt looks to make a pass during the first period against Utah at Rabobank Arena Friday night.

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  4. 4 of 18

    By John Harte / Special to The Californian

    Condor winger Nicholas Tremblay is hit by defenders Mike Folkes (4) and Derick Martin on a power play near the Grizzlies' goal during the first period against Utah at Rabobank Arena Friday night.

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  5. 5 of 18

    By John Harte / Special to The Californian

    The Condor line on the ice for Matt Thurber's (24) goal against Aaron Dell heads toward their bench after a brief celebration during the first period against Utah at Rabobank Arena Friday night.

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    By John Harte / Special to The Californian

    Condor Matt Thurber beats goalie Arron Dell and defender Channing Boe for a goal that gave Bakersfield a 2-1 lead during the first period against Utah at Rabobank Arena Friday night.

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  7. 7 of 18

    By John Harte / Special to The Californian

    Condor Jordan Knackstedt (18) tries to settle the puck and loos to pass against Mathieu Aubin during the first period against Utah at Rabobank Arena Friday night.

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  8. 8 of 18

    By John Harte / Special to The Californian

    Condor winger Chris Collins trips up Vinny Scarsella (11) of the Grizzlies during the first period against Utah at Rabobank Arena Friday night.

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    By John Harte / Special to The Californian

    Condor winger Chris Collins trips up Vinny Scarsella (11) of the Grizzlies during the first period against Utah at Rabobank Arena Friday night.

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    By John Harte / Special to The Californian

    In the first of three images, Condor Michael Neal tries to gather the puck just behind his skate for a shot with goalie Aaron Neal out of position during the first period against Utah at Rabobank Arena Friday night. Grizzlies' forward Mathieu Aubin (7) appears to either knock the puck into the net off Neal's skate, or deflect it to Neal's stick. Neal scored to tie the game at 1-1.

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  11. 11 of 18

    By John Harte / Special to The Californian

    Condor center Matt Thurber tries to gather the puck for a shot on Aaron Dell during the first period against Utah at Rabobank Arena Friday night.

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    By John Harte / Special to The Californian

    Condor Gary Steffes tries to get to the puck ahead of Danick Paquette during the first period against Utah at Rabobank Arena Friday night.

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  13. 13 of 18

    By John Harte / Special to The Californian

    Condor goalie Chet Pickard handles a shot by Danick Paquette during the first period against Utah at Rabobank Arena Friday night. Condor defender is Joey Leach.

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  14. 14 of 18

    By John Harte / Special to The Californian

    The Grizzlies' Derick Martin gets his stick between the skates of Condor Jordan Knackstedt (18) during the first period against Utah at Rabobank Arena Friday night.

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  15. 15 of 18

    By John Harte / Special to The Californian

    Condor Matt Thurber sprawls on the ice as he tries to get to a puck in front of goaltender Aaron Dell during the first period against Utah at Rabobank Arena Friday night. Grizzlies defenders are Phil Mangan (3) and Mike Folkes (4).

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  16. 16 of 18

    By John Harte / Special to The Californian

    In the third of three images, Condor Michael Neal tries to gather the puck just behind his skate for a shot with goalie Aaron Neal out of position during the first period against Utah at Rabobank Arena Friday night. Grizzlies' forward Mathieu Aubin (7) appears to either knock the puck into the net off Neal's skate, or deflect it to Neal's stick. Neal scored to tie the game at 1-1.

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  17. 17 of 18

    By John Harte / Special to The Californian

    In the second of three images, Condor Michael Neal tries to gather the puck just behind his skate for a shot with goalie Aaron Neal out of position during the first period against Utah at Rabobank Arena Friday night. Grizzlies' forward Mathieu Aubin (7) appears to either knock the puck into the net off Neal's skate, or deflect it to Neal's stick. Neal scored to tie the game at 1-1.

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    By John Harte / Special to The Californian

    With goalie Aaron Dell out of position, Condor Matt Thurber looks to make a pass during the first period against Utah at Rabobank Arena Friday night.

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BY MIKE GRIFFITH Californian staff writer mgrifith@bakersfield.com

Having climbed out of the ECHL Western Conference cellar a while back, the Condors have set their goal at climbing in the standings higher rung by rung.

The Utah Grizzlies are making that tough.

The Condors managed just one point for a shootout loss in two games in Utah last weekend and on Friday night the Grizzlies skated away with a 5-2 victory before 4,999 at Rabobank Arena.

The Condors (17-19-1-3) are now seven points behind sixth-place Utah (19-16-3-4). The Grizzlies are 7-1-1-1 over their last 10.

The game turned in the second period as the Condors, turned a 2-1 lead into a 3-2 deficit by yielding a short-handed goal two minutes into the period (by Martin Lee) and a power-play goal to Michael Pelech four minutes later.

"That was the game right there," Condors coach Troy Mann said. "We turned the puck over there and they go three on one (for the short-handed goal) and on the PK, (Collin)Bowman lost his stick and we weren't able to get him a stick. Looked like a little bit of a scrum in front (of the net).That was certainly the turning point."

The Condors had a chance to tie the game on an early power-play in the third, but did not and the Grizzlies iced the game on a 2-on-1 rush and goal by Mathieu Aubin at 9:21. Aubin added an empty netter for the final goal.

"One hundred percent I did not like our third period," Mann said. "We are not a team that can go up and down the ice and exchange scoring chances and turn puck over. Those are the reasons we've had some success as of late. That fourth goal killed us.

"If we would have been able to sustain some offensive zone play and play like we need to play against this team the result could have been different."

Utah opened the scoring 7:48 into the game when Danick Paquette skated to the right edge of the goal all alone, took a pass and easily scored his10th of the season.

Bakersfield responded with Michael Neal banging in his 10th goal at 12:39, cleaning up a rebound after a blocked pass set up an odd-man rush.

The Condors then capitalized on back-to-back power plays with Matt Thurber connecting on the second one at 18:24 to put them up 2-1.

"I thought the first period was a well played hockey game," Mann said. "Not a lot of scoring chances on either side. It was a pretty tight checking game.

"I just didn't feel our game recovered after that third goal. We just had a few passengers and we're the type of team we need more guys going and playing a physical in-your-face style on the forecheck. I thought we got away from that as the game went on."

Chet Pickard gave up four goals on 19 shots in taking the loss.

Notes

Forward Cameron Abney, who had been assigned to the Condors by the Edmonton Oilers, was part of an Oilers trade with Toronto on Friday. He has now been assigned to Orlando, Fla., by Toronto. Abney had five points and 64 minutes in penalties in 24 games.

The first 2,000 fans, 17 and under, at tonight's game will receive their choice of a Lakers basketball, or a Clippers basketball, while supplies last. The team that runs out first will be declared the city favorite.

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