BY MIKE GRIFFITH Californian staff writer email@example.com
STOCKTON -- Turnovers and penalties.
The two proved to be a deadly combination for the Condors on Wednesday night as the Stockton Thunder took full advantage of those en route to a 6-2 victory at Stockton Arena.
The Condors lead the ECHL Western Conference Semifinal 2 games to 1, with Games 4 and 5 in Stockton on Friday and Saturday nights.
A fortuitous bounce started the Thunder comeback, and a horrible turnover gave it the lead late in the second.
After that, the Condors had no answer for the Thunder, who scored four goals in the third period.
Stockton snapped a 123-minute scoreless drought 8:29 into the second when the puck went off Nicholas Tremblay's skate as he drove toward the net and past Laurent Brossoit for a power-play goal to tie the game 1-1.
Referee Ryan Murphy immediately waved off the goal but after conferring with his linesman, changed his ruling and called it a good goal.
Ten minutes later, the Condors were on the power play and turned the puck over in their own zone on a retrieve which led directly to a short-handed goal by James Henry.
"I really liked our first period. I thought we came out and managed that first period because we knew they'd come hard," Condors coach Troy Mann said. "The PK -- we didn't get it out. (Ryan) Watson had a chance to get it out and tried to make a play to go on a 2-on-1 instead of just making sure the puck got out and they got a break.
"(Our) power play wasn't good from the start. There was no zone time, that unit got caught out too long, there's a turnover and the next thing you know it's a 2-1 hockey game. I felt it was a total different hockey game after that."
It certainly was as two Stockton goals in the first six minutes of the third period sealed the victory.
Ryan Hayes scored from the edge of the paint two minutes into the period and Andrew Clark's blast from the point on a power play put the Thunder up 4-1 six minutes into the period.
"Going into the third we felt pretty confident," Condors captain Joel Broda said. "We'd been in that situation before in this playoff run. We liked our ability to come back.
"We knew if we played our style of hockey we were going to give ourselves a chance to win, but that third goal was obviously pretty huge for them to be able to squeak it in. Then they got another one on the power play.
"It's tough. We didn't give up. But it's tough when things are going their way."
Alan Quine made it 5-1 at 13:37. Chris Schaber got one back for Bakersfield at 15:01 and Hayes finished the scoring with an empty-netter.
"We ended up playing their game in the third period," Broda said. "We were running around, making high-risk plays. That's not our game. That's their style of game."
Brossoit suffered the loss, allowing five goals on 22 shots. Brian Foster stopped 29 shots for the win.
An even first period tilted Bakersfield's way in the waning minutes when Broda forced a turnover in the neutral zone and started a play which led to his goal.
Broda slid the puck to Nick MacNeil, who entered Stockton's zone on the right side as Broda drove toward the net. MacNeil passed to Jordan Knackstedt on the left boards, and Knackstedt fed the puck to Broda.
Broda then spun and slid a backhander past Foster to put the Condors up 1-0 with 1:32 left in the period.
"It would have been nice to get another one early because I thought we were playing well," Mann said. "At this stage we just have to play our style of game. We got away from it, certainly after the second goal."