Condors

Friday, Mar 28 2014 10:52 PM

Pickard elevates his game, but Condors fall in shootout

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    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    Condors' Matt Thurber, left, and Reign's Matt Register battle for the puck in the first period Friday night at Rabobank Arena.

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    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    Condors' Chase Schaber, right, and Reign's Everett Sheen watch as the puck is cleared during first period action Friday night at Rabobank Arena.

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    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    Condors' Gary Steffes celebrates with teammates following his first period goal against the Ontario Reign Friday night at Rabobank Arena.

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    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    Condors' Matt Thurber, left, and Reign's Rocco Carzo battle for the puck during second period action Friday night at Rabobank Arena.

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    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    Condors' George Hughes works to clear the puck between two Reign defenders Friday night at Rabobank Arena.

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    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    Condors' Ryan Little, right, and Reign's Gasper Kopitar work for control of the puck in the first period Friday night at Rabobank Arena.

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    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    Condors' Jordan Knackstedt, left, and Reign's Everett Sheen work for position Friday night at Rabobank Arena.

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    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    Condors' Gary Steffes, left, gets hit by Reign's Gasper Kopitar in the first period Friday night at Rabobank Arena.

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    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    Condors' Gary Steffes, left, and Reign's Matt Register battle near the glass in the second period Friday night at Rabobank Arena.

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    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    Reign's Chris Crane trails Condors' Jordan Knackstedt during action Friday night at Rabobank Arena.

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    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    Condors' Matt Thuber and Reign's Rocco Carzo work for the puck during action March 28 at Rabobank Arena.

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    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    Condors' Andrew Carroll waits for a pass during first period action against Ontario Reign Friday night at Rabobank Arena.

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    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    Condors' Ryan Little sets up a play during action against Ontario Reign Friday night at Rabobank Arena.

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    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    Condors' Michael Neal takes the puck across center ice against Ontario Reign Friday night at Rabobank Arena.

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    By Nick Ellis/ Special to The Californian

    Condors' Jordan Knackstedt skates toward the goal during Friday's game against Ontario Reign.

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BY MIKE GRIFFITH Californian staff writer mgriffith@bakersfield.com

Chet Pickard found his game on Friday night at Rabobank Arena, but it wasn't quite enough to lift the Condors to victory.

Pickard stopped 33 shots in regulation and overtime and allowed just one of five shooters to score in the subsequent shootout.

But all five Condors shooters were blanked in the skills competition and Ontario left Rabobank Arena with a come-from-behind 3-2 victory before 5,011.

"I thought Pickard was great and that was nice to see," Condors coach Troy Mann said. "He's battled the puck (lately).

"Hopefully that's a sign of things to come for him as well."

Despite being outshot 28-11 after two periods, the Condors held a 2-1 lead over the Reign heading to the third.

And with just over 6 minutes left in regulation, they went on the power play.

That's when it went south.

Derek Couture scored a short-handed goal with just over 5 minutes left to tie the game, the 13th short-handed goal allowed by Bakersfield this season.

"It was an unfortunate bounce on the rim," Mann said of what led to the short-handed goal. "It caught the partition there and just got by us. I really felt the way were were playing in the third I thought we were going to be able to win that game 2-1.

"Bad break, for sure."

The Condors didn't get their first shot on goal until just over 9 minutes had gone by in the first period, and 2 minutes later the Condors had a 1-0 lead as Steffes scored on Bakersfield's second shot of the game.

Steffes got free in the left circle, took a feed from Little, and fired the puck past Mathias Niederberger.

After that it was pretty much the Pickard show as Ontario kept firing away. Pickard stopped every one he saw, but a shot by John Ryder from the point sailed through a maze of traffic and a screened Pickard to tie the game with 2:08 left in the period.

It was the first goal in more than seven years of hockey for Ryder, who last scored as a freshman at the University of Denver.

Little and Steffes combined again in the second period to put Bakersfield up 2-1.

Little passed the puck through the slot to Steffes, who was again in the left circle, and this time he put a backhander high into the net at 11:24.

The Condors missed a golden opportunity to make it 3-1 seven minutes into the third, but didn't even generate a shot on goal during a 4-on-1 break.

"We're certainly an offensively challenged team, you can see that," Mann said. "We had a number of chances to put the game away. We had that 4-on-1 in the third to make it 3-1 and I don't even know if we got a shot on net. (Chase) Schaber had a point blank in overtime and he misses the net.

"We have some guys that unfortunately are struggling little bit offensively and when you have guys out of the lineup you need those goals."

That aside, Mann liked a lot of what he saw.

"I thought we competed. As a coach all you can ask for is to compete," he said."

Among those competing were two new defenseman Ian Barteaux and Collin Joe -- who were playing their first pro games after finishing their careers at the University of Alberta.

"I thought they were good, they competed," Mann said. "Overall I liked their game."

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