BY MIKE GRIFFITH Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Hopefully his teammates bought Brian Stewart the beverage of his choice late Saturday night.
He deserved it.
Stewart, on the heels of a 52-save performance in a 4-1 win on Friday night, stopped all 46 shots he faced on Saturday night as the Condors beat the Colorado Eagles 1-0 at Rabobank Arena.
That’s a goals-against average of 0.50 and a save percentage of .990.
As the Eagles found out, that’s tough to beat.
“Obviously, Stewy was a machine out there this weekend,” Condors coach Matt O’Dette said. “... what else can you say about him? It’s his time of year. He’s a second half guy and it looks like he's heating up which is great for us.
“He's a work horse. Once he gets some confidence going, and it certainly looks like he's got some, he can be unbeatable at times and that certainly was the case tonight.”
The victory was the third straight for the Condors (17-34-5) who are desperately trying to stay in playoff contention. Bakersfield has 16 games left and trails San Francisco, which has played four less games) by six points.
“We need points any which way,” O'Dette said. “ Home stand, road game, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. It doesn't matter. Every game we need points It's about finding ways to get it done.”
And right now, Stewart is giving the Condors every chance to win.
Despite all the shots he faced the past two nights, Stewart said it was better than early in the season.
“It's not like early in the year when we were giving up 2-on-1s, backdoors. We'd give up 30 shots and about 25 were scoring chances. That's a way tougher game to play for a goalie. A game like (Saturday night) I'm fine with. As long as shots are coming from the outside and I'm holding the puck.
“Last night I gt a bit lucky on second chances and tonight they didn't have many second chances and it made it a lot easier. I was either holding it or putting it to the corner.”
Jake Morley scored the lone goal on a power play 6:15 into the second period off assists from his former Clarkson University teammates Scott Freeman and Nicholas Tremblay.
Morley has seven points in 13 games with the Condors and a four-game point steak. He had nine points in 30 games in the Central Hockey League before joining the Condors.
“I think he compliments two skilled guys perfectly on that line,” O'Dette said of Morley. “He's the guy doing the dirty work. Working the walls, working the corners, going to the front of the net. When you have two guys with the skill that Tremblay and Freeman have that's a good chemistry line.”
After that goal it was all about Stewart, especially in the third period when the Eagles, thanks to some power plays, out shot the Condors 17-4.
“We gave them every opportunity with our penalties in the third but that's why our penalty kill is there: to get the job done and they got it done when we needed to,” O'Dette said.
The Condors gave Colorado four third-period power plays, including one with 4:37 left and the other with 52 seconds remaining.
“I was thinking geeze we keep taking stick penalties in the offensive zone which is like a no-no,” Stewart said of the last two penalties. “The 6-on-4 (Colorado had its goaltender pulled for an extra attacker for the final minute) is as good an opportunity as any (to score) and the boys battled there on the two last face offs at the end.
“Now we've just got to hope San Francisco looses and we keep on winning.”