BY STEPHEN LYNCH Special to The Californian
Finally. After numerous near-misses, the Bakersfield Condors brought down their biggest nemesis Friday night. And in the process they clawed a little bit closer to a berth in the ECHL playoffs.
Jacob Lagace scored two goals and Scott Freeman had a goal and an assist to lift the Condors to a 4-2 victory over the Ontario Reign at Rabobank Arena.
The win snapped Bakersfield's 17-game losing streak to Ontario, the top team in the Pacific Division.
"It's something that we've been striving for," said Condors coach Matt O'Dette of the win against Ontario. "These guys have had our number. It's a good measuring stick for us. If we can compete with this team it gives us confidence. We're ready to get back at it tomorrow night."
After battling back from a 2-1 second-period deficit, Freeman put the Condors ahead for good with 16:14 remaining in the game.
Late in the third period, Lagace iced things with his 16th goal of the season, tying him for the team.
The Condors are six points behind the San Francisco Bulls for the eighth and final playoff spot in the ECHL's Western Conference.
San Francisco lost, 3-2, to the Alaska Aces on Friday night. The Bulls have 11 games left and the Condors have nine.
Ontario, which was 2-for-6 on the power play, outshot Bakersfield 31-22.
The Condors converted on only one of their five power-play chances, but it turned out to be the game-winner.
Following a two-minute slashing penalty on the Reign's Matt Register, Freeman broke a 2-2 tie with his fourth goal of the season.
The 5-foot-10, 180-pound right wing, tried to pass the puck across the mouth of the goal to Nicholas Tremblay, but instead it hit a defender and deflected into the net.
The win came one day after the Condors added four players with a couple of trade-deadline deals.
One of the new players, Shawn Skelly, had two assists.
"I think it's great to have new blood on the team," Lagace said.
The two teams were tied, 2-2, after two periods of play.
Down 2-1, Tremblay got the Condors even with 2:48 left in the period when he flicked the puck just under the crossbar at the end of a one-on-one breakaway.
Earlier in the frame, the Reign notched two power-play goals within 35 seconds of each other to pull ahead.
First, Adrian Van de Mosselar capitalized on an Ontario two-man advantage by connecting for the second goal of his professional career with a one-timer just inside the blue line.
Then moments later, Derek Couture took a cross-ice pass from Mario Lamoureux at the left side of the net and stuffed the puck past Condors goalie Scott Greenham.
The Condors led 1-0 at the end of the first period despite being outshot 13-6 prior to the first intermission and playing shorthanded six of the game's first 16 minutes.
Just 2:36 after the opening faceoff, Lagace blasted a short wrist shot just inside the near post to give Bakersfield the early lead.
Brett Perlini began the scoring sequence by firing a shot from just in front of the crease that Ontario goal keeper Chris Carrozzi deflected out to his left. But Lagace was right there to jump on the loose puck.
"Good things happen when you throw pucks at the net," Lagace said.
The Condors play the Reign at Rabobank Arena again tonight and then host the Utah Grizzlies on Wednesday and Friday to close out the four-game homestand.