BY MIKE GRIFFITH Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
The Bakersfield Condors would probably prefer not seeing the Alaska Aces again for quite a while.
Problem is, they could be facing them in the first round of the playoffs in a few weeks.
The Aces stormed back from a 2-0 first-period deficit to beat the Condors 4-2 on Tuesday night at Rabobank Arena, finishing the regular season 6-2-0 against the Condors.
The Aces (42-17-3-3) have the best winning percentage in the ECHL and are battling Ontario, the second best winning percentage, for the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
With eight games left in the regular season the Condors are sitting seventh in the standings, which would pit them against the No. 2 seed in the opening round of the playoffs.
The Aces scored three goals in the second and their final in the third, outshooting the Condors 35-21 on the game and 28-14 over the final two period.
Jordan Knackstedt got the Condors off to a good start in the first period when he blasted in his 17th goal off a feed from Nick MacNeil at 5:49.
The Condors controlled play from that point on and opened a 2-0 lead at 16:36 when Erik Burgdoerfer scored from just inside the blue line.
The Aces ended the period on a power play, starting the third with 1:27 of power-play time.
Bakersfield killed that, but took another penalty at 2:11, killing that.
But the momentum had switched and a goal by Andy Taranto cut Bakersfield's lead to 2-1 at 4:30.
Brett Findlay scored on an up-ice rush to tie the game at 14:26 then put the Aces up 3-2 on a defensive breakdown with another goal at 16:45.
Taranto put the game out of reach with his second of the night 11:33 into the third.
"I knew they'd make a push and they certainly did," Condors coach Troy Mann said. "Their first goal was definitely a game changer. They started coming at us pretty hard and gave them momentum.
"We had some chances, I thought we made a decent push at times in the second but overall we turned the puck over way too much.
The third period, it just looked like we didn't have a lot of fight left in our legs, especially once they made it 4-2."
The Condors, 3-7 in their last 0 games, were playing short for the fourth game, with just nine forwards and five defensemen. One of those D-men, Travis Garwyletz, is nursing a sore hand and Man said probably should not have played.
He will be back out of the lineup as reinforcements are on the way.
The Condors will be signing two defensemen -- Joe Collin and Ian Barteaux -- who just finished play at the University of Alberta and Mann said he has a couple of forwards on the hook.
"We're going to bring in two defensemen (today) and a couple of forwards to not only see if we can replenish the roster but put some pressure on some guys who are, in my opinion, not where they need to be in terms of giving us a chance to win."