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By Rod Thornburg / Special to he Californian
BY STEPHEN LYNCH Special to The Californian
Peter Boyd won't likely soon forget his 25th birthday on Saturday, for both good and bad reasons.
The Condors' second-year center had a Gordie Howe hat trick, registering a goal and an assist while getting into a fight.
But unfortunately for Boyd that wasn't enough to keep the Condors from losing 4-3 to the Ontario Reign at Rabobank Arena.
Mario Lamoureaux and Matt Register scored second period goals less than three and half minutes apart to help carry the Pacific Division leading Reign to their 17th straight win over the Condors.
"It's kind of bittersweet," Boyd said. "The end result would have been the best thing to get for the birthday...I think we just need wins right now. We just trying to get them any way we can. It's was disappointing but we had a good effort. We showed signs. We just have to bring it together for 60 minutes."
The second period proved to be Bakersfield's undoing.
The Reign had four power play opportunities during the period, which began with it tallying nine shots on goal before the Condors had their first one.
However, the Condors made the most of its initial scoring attempt of the period as Boyd received a cross-ice pass from Jacob Legace in the right circle and ripped a hard wrist shot into the back of the net.
The assist was Legace's 11th point (three goals and eight assists) in his last nine games.
After falling behind 4-2 on a DJ King goal, Brent Perlini got Bakersfield back into contention by lighting up the lamp midway through the third period.
The Condors offensive attack came up empty after that despite aggressively attacking the Ontario net the rest of the way.
"(Ontario) is the best team in the league in my opinion," Condors coach Matt O'Dette said. "...For us to beat them we have to stay out of the (penalty) box, don't give them any unnecessary opportunities and match their work ethic. I thought we did an alright job of doing that tonight but we weren't opportunistic with our chance and they were. And that's the difference."
Bakersfield began the game strong, jumping out to quick lead on Daniel Koger's eighth goal of the season.
Positioned just in front of the crease, Koger slid a hard shot under Ontario goal keeper Sergey Kostenko after receiving a perfectly placed backhand pass from Boyd.
That snapped a 27-game streak without a goal for Koger.
Later in the first period Boyd, a 5-foot-10,190 pounder, was involved in the first fight of his professional career.
The first 20 minutes of play which ended tied 1-1, provided lots of action for the 6,077 fans in attendance.
Prior to Boyd's fisticuffs with Everett Sheen, Bakersfield's Nick Prockow and Ontario's Chris Cloud briefly squared off.
The Reign trailed most of the opening period despite outshooting the Condors 16-8 prior to the first intermission.
After peppering Condors goalie Scott Greenham with increasing frequency, Ontario finally drew even at the 15:10 mark of the first period on Kyle Kraemer's short wrist shot just under the crossbar.
The loss was a big one for the Condors who entered the night four points behind the San Francisco Bulls for the final playoff spot in the ECHL's Western Conference.
Bakersfield will next go on the road to face the Alaska Aces three straight games before closing out the regular season by playing seven of 10 at home.
The Aces are the league's top team with 84 points. Alaska is among three teams, all in the Western Conference, that have already clinched playoff berths.