BY MIKE GRIFFITH Californian staff writer email@example.com
In a game where every punch was answered by a counter punch, the Condors delivered the knockout punch on Saturday night at Rabobank Arena.
Ontario lost the puck at Bakersfield's blue line and Ryan Little swooped in, picked it up and sped down the ice, scoring on a breakaway two minutes and 43 seconds into overtime to lift the Condors to a 4-3 win.
"I thought we played excellent tonight," Condors coach Troy Mann said. "There were some momentum shifts throughout the 65-minute game or whatever it was, but I thought the guys played great. Really good response from last night (a 6-2 loss in Ontario), not that we played poorly last night but it certainly wasn't our A game.
"To get a response from everybody it was great for us."
It was quite the response since the Condors, who started the game one short on defense, ended up losing forward Ryan Watson and goaltender Tyler Bunz during the game.
Watson was involved in a big collision late in the first period and Bunz took a puck to the throat and left midway through the second, having stopped all night shots he'd faced at that time.
"Watson had that collision there in the neutral zone (and has) a little bit of knee injury," Mann said. " We don't think it's anything serious, just better to keep him off.
"Then Bunzy got hit in the neck there. He's going to head to the hospital as precaution."
The Condors left after the game for Las Vegas where they play today at 2.
"We're dropping like flies," Mann said. "We already played one short. Now we'll go to Vegas two short. Hopefully we have enough gas left the tank to pull out another win."
Gary Steffes started off a wild third period by getting his second goal on the night to put the Condors up 2-1 3:36 into the period.
Ontario countered at the 12:36 mark when Maxim Kitsyn scored and the Condors regained the lead just under two minutes later when Matt Thurber swatted a bouncing puck in during a power play.
The Reign knotted the game 3-3 with 2:58 left when Matt Register scored, setting up the dramatic overtime finish.
"I thought going into the third period we deserved to win but that doesn't always happen," Mann said. "The guys on the bench kept believing we could win the game. I felt real good getting the one point (for a tie) once the 60-minute bell went.
The guys dug deep in overtime. It was a little bit of a break but I thought the Steffes, (Andrew) Carroll, Little line was great tonight and Little deserved that game-winner just based on how his game was."
It took 20 shots, but the Condors got on the scoreboard first as Steffes rifled a wrister high into the net 3:51 into the second.
Back-to-back power plays gave the Reign some momentum, but more importantly, ended the night for Bunz at 10:42.
Bunz took a puck up high, just below his mask at 10:42, tossed his mask on the ice and immediately headed to the dressing room.
Chet Pickard came in at that point and stopped two shots to kill the power play but the Reign struck seconds later.
Rocco Carzo broke into Bakersfield's zone alone on the left side and fired a shot that Pickard stopped. But the puck came loose and trickled into the net as the Reign made it 1-1 at 11:29.