BY MIKE GRFFITH Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
It took 37 shots over 65 minutes of hockey and a marathon shootout, but the Condors put the bad taste of 2012 behind them on Wednesday night, opening the New Year with a 2-1 victory over the Idaho Steelheads at Rabobank Arena.
Condors goaltender Scott Greenham and Idaho goalie Tyler Beskorowany were on top of their games (36 saves each) so it was no surprise that the shootout went on and on and on.
Defenseman Deron Cousens, the 18th shooter in the nine-round event, sent the puck past Beskorowany to end Bakersfield's nine-game losing streak.
"It's a new year and a new season for us" Cousens said after being named the No. 1 star for the game-winner.
Cousens is part of a retooling of the Condors, having joined the team on a road trip in Colorado the week before Christmas.
"It's going to be a new season, it's a tale of two seasons," Condors coach Matt O'Dette said. "We've got these new faces coming, we're gong to get healthy, some teams are going to loose key players ... it's going to be a different second half. I guarantee it."
At 8-23-3 the Condors have a lot of ground to make up in just half a season.
"We needed it pretty bad we were in a pretty big slump and we needed something like to get us out of it," Greenham said of stopping the bleeding. "The guys played really well tonight and got a lot of shots, which is huge for us. This is one of the first games we got close to 40 and that's really big.
"It's a new year. We're 1-0 in 2013. We just have to keep this going and go from game to game, gain some confidence and hopefully by the end of the year we'll be in position where we'll be in the playoffs."
O'Dette said Greeham will play a big role if the Condors are successful.
"He was unbelievable (Wednesday night)," O'Dette said. "If he gets hot, and I think he's been very good lately ... it's going to be great for us. We need him to keep it rolling."
Greenham has been "money" on shootout all season. He is 5-0 in the skills contest and has stopped 25 of 26 shots.
But it's never as easy as it looks he said.
"Even from the fifth shot on, you let one go in and that could be the end of the game," he said. "That's what happened. It only took one goal out of 18 shots that ended this."
Liam Huculak put the Condors up 1-0 midway though the third period when he fired a one-timer off a feed from Alex Hudson past Beskorowany.
Idaho tied it when Justin Dowling scored off an up-ice rush three minutes later.
Condors defenseman Erik Burgdoerfer was named team captain on Wednesday. The Condors had been playing with three assistants and no designated captain since the "C" was removed from Levi Nelson earlier this season.
Defenseman Dale Warkentin was the only new player to take the ice for the Condors on Wednesday.