BY MIKE GRIFFITH Californian staff writer email@example.com
A win would have been sweet for the Condors, but a 4-3 shootout loss to the Ontario Reign on Saturday night at Rabobank Arena certainly was not bitter.
At least not in the eyes of Condors coach Matt O'Dette, who saw his club twice battle back from one-goal deficits and earn a point by getting past regulation.
"Being down going into the third and battling hard to get that point, that showed a lot of character," O'Dette said. "We're real happy with that. It was our third game in three nights, their first. Against a good team. They're a good team and they were fresh."
It was the seventh straight win for the Reign (11-4-0-0), which is atop the Western Conference and had won six straight games by two or more goals during their run.
For the Condors (5-8-1-2), it was the fourth time in five games they’ve gone to a shootout. Bakersfield was 4-1 in shootouts before Saturday.
“Sometimes the shootouts don’t go your way,” O’Dette said. “We’ve been doing well in shootouts and that’s just the way shootouts are. Some nights it doesn’t go for you.
“Two (points) would have been nice but one, especially being down one in the third, was a pretty good accomplishment.”
Down 3-2 heading into the third, the Condors tied the game at 7:34 when Jacob Lagace scored from the left edge off a feed from Tyler Brenner, who was behind the goal line.
The overtime period featured a rare two minutes of 3-on-3 action due to matching minors at the end of regulation and Bakersfield goaltender Brian Stewart made a flurry of saves in the final seconds, including a last-second save on NHL veteran Devin Setoguchi to send the game to the skills contest. Stewart finished with 33 saves.
C.J. Stretch started the shootout by scoring for Ontario, and Peter Boyd, Bakersfield’s first shooter, answered. Mario Lamoureux later scored for the Reign while Ontario goalkeeper Chris Carrozzi stopped all four shooters he faced after Boyd.
“Our shooters have been hot but we couldn’t continue that today,” O’Dette said. “It’s almost like a coin flip. We have some good shooters, good goaltending. Sometimes it doesn't go your way.”
The Condors struck quickly to open the game with Boyd scoring from the low slot at 2:15 after a nice pass from David Toews. That lead lasted less than two minutes as Jason Beeman cut around a Bakersfield defender below the left circle and beat Stewart on the short side at 4:08.
Then Reign made it 2-1 on a bad bounce goal as Stewart went down to make a save on Derek Couture only to have the puck go off his skate, between his legs and into the net at 9:34. The Reign kept the Condors bottled up in their own end for much of the remainder of the period as the Condors were outshot 11-5.
Bakersfield struck quickly again in the second, tying the game 1:38 into the period when Levi Nelson scored his fifth goal off a shot from below the right face-off circle. The Reign took a 3-2 lead at 7:09 of the third as Kyle Kraemer scored five seconds after the Condors killed a penalty.
The Condors conclude a four-game homestand against San Francisco on Tuesday night. They play in Stockton on Friday night then are home against Ontario on Saturday night for the annual Teddy Bear Toss game.