BY MIKE GRIFFITH Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
It took just one game for defenseman Erik Burgdoerfer to double his goal output for the season.
And it could not have come at a better time for the Bakersfield Condors.
Burgdoerfer scored two goals in regulation and added a shootout goal as the Condors kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 4-3 victory over the Utah Grizzlies before 4,866 fans on Friday night at Rabobank Arena.
With the Condors down 1-0 after five Utah shooters had taken to the ice, Condors coach Matt O'Dette said it was a no-brainer to send his captain onto the ice in an effort to extend the shootout.
Just as he did during regulation, Burgdoerfer came through as he beat Utah goalie Ben Meisner.
Brian Stewart (30 saves in the game and five-of-six in the shootout) stopped the next Utah shooter and Derek Cousens gave the Condors the victory when he scored.
The Condors trail San Francisco by six points and have just six games remaining. The Bulls have eight games left, two against the Condors.
"Basically we need to stay alive so it's got to fall on my shoulders at some point," Burgdoerfer said. "I was happy I could come through for the boys."
O'Dette was impressed by Burgdoerfer as well as the rest of his team.
"It was an exciting game, a good night for everybody," he said. "That's a leader right there. That's what a captain's gotta do. Step it up when the game's on the line. Not only his two goals but the shootout goal. That's clutch under pressure when we needed it."
Burgdoerfer staked the Condors to a 1-0 lead nine minutes into the game and tied it 2-2 early in the third after the Condors yielded two second-period goals to the Grizzlies.
"(Scott) Freeman made a good pass across the ice, there was a shot lane and I don't think the goalie even saw it," Burgdoerfer said of the first goal. "It was a nice play.
"The second one is what you dream of. Just a little rebound laying there, their goalie is out of the net, big scrum, and just a tap-in. You gotta be happy about those."
Bakersfield went up 3-2 on a Nick Prockow goal at 7:54 and Utah tied the game on a goal by Berkley Scott with eight minutes left.
While the goals put Burgdoerfer in the spotlight, his defensive play was just as important.
Late in the first period he made up a couple of strides and caught up with Utah leading scorer Colin Volk and disrupted a breakaway, not allowing a shot.
"That was a great play," O'Dette said. "Just hard work and hustle to get back there and break up that play. The last minute of the game they had some pressure on us and he had a great defensive shift.
"He's been a rock back there for us all year, logging tons of minutes and it's nice to see him get rewarded with some offense tonight."
And now, the Condors will be rooting for the Grizzlies, who play in San Francisco tonight and Sunday.
"We certainly need their help," O'Dette said of the Grizzlies. "Hopefully we made them angry enough to play really hard.
"We're not going to watch the scoreboard. We're going to worry about our game Sunday (in Stockton)."