BY MIKE GRIFFITH Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
The loss to the Las Vegas Wranglers on Saturday night at Rabobank Arena stung for sure, but not as badly as two significant injuries over a three-day period.
The Condors, down to four defenseman due to those injuries, looked out of sync most of the night in falling to the Wranglers 2-0 before 6,022.
Condors coach Troy Mann hasn't sent out an S.O.S., but he is looking hard for a defenseman in the wake of bad news.
Rookie defenseman Nick Pageau was hit in the head by a puck midway though the second period on Friday night in Ontario and suffered a fractured skull.
Pageau stayed overnight at an Ontario hospital before returning to Bakersfield on Saturday evening.
Condors coach Troy Mann said Pageau will have surgery to insert a metal plate sometime this week and will be out indefinitely.
Pageau was in his defensive zone near the goal when a wrist shot from the point sent the puck toward him. Somehow the puck hit him in the forehead, getting between the top of the face shield and his helmet.
On Tuesday, the Condors announced they had signed veteran defenseman Travis Gawryletz, but he suffered a broken hand in his first practice that day and will have surgery this week as well.
"Both were totally freak deals," Mann said. "Really bad luck."
With Erik Burgdoerfer on recall to Oklahoma City in the American Hockey League, the Condors are down to four defensemen.
"We're hurting," Mann said, adding he did not have any idea when Burgdoerfer, who played for the Barons on Saturday night, might be sent back down. "We've got to go out and find a depth guy."
Also missing from the lineup is forward Michael Neal (fourth on the team in points), who Mann expects to be out another 10-14 days with a lower body injury.
The loss, coupled with the 3-2 overtime loss in Ontario on Friday night, marks the first time the Condors (13-17-1-1) have dropped two straight since mid-November. The last time they were held without a goal was Nov. 3.
With just four true defenseman, rookie forward Ryan Little, who played some defense in college, filled in on the blue line.
Mann said he fretted about the Las Vegas game all day.
"It was a concern all day long that we expended so much energy playing a pretty emotional game going into Ontario, kind of wanting to prove we can play with those guys based on their record (the best in the ECHL)," Mann said. "It was a playoff type game so I was really worried about the first period. It kind of came to form in terms of us having a slow start."
Las Vegas scored on it's first shot, 31 seconds into the game when Adam Hughesman's shot deflected past Tyler Bunz.
The Condors only generated three shots in the period until two late shots in the final minute.
Justin Bernhardt scored off a rebound with 1:32 left in the second for the final Las Vegas goal.
"I really thought the second goal late in that second period killed us," Mann said. " If we could have managed to come out of the second period 1-nothing it could have been a different game for us."
Tyler Bunz stopped 21 shots in suffering his first loss in his last six starts.
"We just didn't have enough forwards going," Mann said. "We didn't move the puck as quick as we normally do but our D (was OK). I thought the onus was on the forwards tonight. We just didn't have enough forwards going."
The Condors are five points ahead of Las Vegas with two games in hand.