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By Michael Fagans / The Californian
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By Californian file photo
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By Michael Fagans / The Californian
BY MIKE GRIFFITH Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
The Colorado Eagles spent most of Friday night circling around in the Bakersfield zone but all they came away with was a heavy dose of frustration thanks to Brian Stewart.
Stewart made a season-high 52 saves for Bakersfield and four different Condors scored goals en route to a 4-1 victory before 3,839 at Rabobank Arena.
It was the first victory for the Condors this season in six games against the Eagles.
A turning point came midway through the first period when it appeared the Eagles had tied the game on a shot from beyond center ice that bounced and skipped past Stewart. But a linesman ruled a Colorado player had entered the Bakersfield zone before the puck and the offside call negated the goal.
"That was big," Stewart said of the goal being waived off. "That's first time it's happened to me in a very long time.
Colorado fired 17 shots at Stewart in the first period, 20 in the second and 16 more in the third.
"I felt good all night," he said. "It didn't matter. Most of the shots came from the outside."
The Condors generated just 24 shots on goal, including only three in the third period.
"Obviously when you have good goaltending like that it gives you a shot," Condors coach Matt O'Dette said, "Stewy was fantastic. They had sustained pressure on us at time but I don't think we gave up too many glorious opportunities."
The Eagles, however, did give up some of those glorious opportunities and the Condors were there to convert, starting with the first goal of the game by Jacob Lagace.
"One of goals was to get a good start tonight and we did that," O'Dette said. "If we play the right way, play simple, our opportunities will present themselves. When we played simple and chipped pucks along the wall we created some odd-man opportunities.
"Tonight we were opportunistic. We got our chances, our 2-on-1s and we buried them. We'll take those any days."
Lagace staked the Condors to a 1-0 lead 14 seconds into the game when he scored on a rebound from the slot.
"I told the guys in the locker room right before we went out to get me the rock and I'd score," Lagace said of his 14th goal.
But after that is was Stewart in the spotlight as he was under constant pressure from the Eagles.
"We took a couple of penalties that gave them momentum, they had a lot of shots," Lagace said of the first period. "Thank God Stewy was in net."
Colorado came out firing again to start the second but Scott Freeman turned the tide 8:40 into the period when he skated down the left side, moved the puck to his backhand and lifted it past Colorado goaltender Adam Brown to make it 2-0.
The Eagles were pressuring again late in the period when a big save by Stewart started the Condors on way to their third goal.
Freeman scooped up the puck after the save and quickly raced down the right side on an odd-man rush. He made a nice pass to Tremblay, who was streaking down the left side, and Tremblay finished the play at 16:03 with his 13th goal in just his 19th game.
"On (Freeman's goal) it went off my pad I think then I heard (the assist announcement) and I was happy about that, its my first of the year," Stewart said. .
Thirty second later the Eagles finally got a puck past Stewart as Dylan Hood put the puck just under the crossbar.
But any momentum the Eagles might have had was quickly squelched as Evan Trupp stopped a 24-game goalless streak when he scored on a power play off a pass from Freeman with just under two minutes left in the period.