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By Rod Thornburg/ Special to The Californian
By Mike Griffith
A Bakersfield power play that had been struggling mightily came to life Friday night, propelling the Condors to a 5-0 victory over the visiting Idaho Steelheads.
The victory was just the second in 12 games, but the second in the last four for the Condors (9-25-3), who are looking to climb out of the ECHL Western Conference cellar and into playoff position.
Scott Greenham stopped 29 shots as the Condors blanked an opponent for the first time this season.
“It’s a new year and everybody wants to come out and get a good start,” said Tyler Brenner, who had a goal and an assist. “We want to set a new tone for this part of the year and that's what I think we did.
“We have to come out every game and play like this. It can't be every other game or one period a game. It’s got to be every period of every game.”
The game turned in the first four minutes as the Condors took full advantage of power plays.
Brenner scored a power-play goal 3:09 into the game, snapping a nine-game goal-less streak.
That goal came during the first portion of a double-minor against the Steelheads, and the Condors went right back on the power play. Eight seconds later they had a two-man advantage as the Steelheads took another penalty.
Peter Boyd scored at 3:59 to put the Condors up 2-0 as Bakersfield had two goals on its first four shots of the game. Newcomer Nicolas Tremblay, who arrived Thursday night, and played his first game of the year, scored another power-play goal 3:41 into the second and the Condors were rolling.
“That normally doesn't happen to us, getting those opportunities early,” Condors coach Matt O’Dette said. “Normally we’re the ones killing early in the game. It was nice to get those opportunities and we cashed in. I think that was a big part of the game. We got three power-play goals early.
“Obviously, Greenham was good again. I think that was a much better effort by the team and a good start to our second half.”
Tremblay, who played in four American Hockey League games at the end of his collegiate career late last year, had been sitting this year looking for the right deal.
“I felt pretty rusty out there but I think we had a good game,” Tremblay said. “I tried to get my legs moving out there and keep things simple. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be better (tonight).”
The Condors lost two games in Idaho last weekend by a combined score of 15-5, but with the NHL lockout ending, the Steelheads lost several key players to the American Hockey League.
“Those were humbling games, obviously, 7-2 and 8-3,” O’Dette said. “We remember that. I don’t think that was indicative of the play. I thought we played a lot better than the score indicted. They were a little bit more opportunistic and the mistakes we made were big ones.”
The Steelhead players who did the bulk of the scoring in those games are now gone.
“We know that it’s a different dynamic now with our opposition and it has given us new life and optimism,” O’Dette said. “As we got going early, got a couple goals, it led to our confidence and I think that kept building as the game went on.”
Bakersfield added two late goals for the final margin — defenseman Kyle Haines scored with 1:27 left, and forward Nick Prockow with 16 seconds left. It was Prockow’s first professional goal.
Forward Max Campbell’s stay with the Condors was short-lived. Acquired in a trade last week, Campbell played in two games on the road for the Condors. He has been suspended by the team as he left to play hockey in Europe.
Tonight is LA Dodgers Night. Former Dodger Maury Wills, the 1962 National League MVP, will be at the game to sign autographs and pose for pictures at the Condors Photo Booth.