Condors

Saturday, Nov 26 2011 10:45 PM

Condors fall to Ontario on Teddy Bear Toss Night

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    By Alex Horvath / The Californian

    It was looking bleak for the near-capacity crowd at Rabobank Arena Saturday night as the Condors were being shut out by Ontario Reigh near the end of the final period, with thousands of teddy bears and stuffed animals waiting to be tossed onto the ice upon the first Condor goal.

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    By Alex Horvath / The Californian

    Bakersfield Condor Mathew Sisca trys to control the puck between two Ontario Reigh defenders Steven Tarasuk and Chris Cloud Pat at Rabobank Arena Saturday night.

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    By Alex Horvath / The Californian

    Condors goalie Bryan Pitton dives to protect the goal in third period action against the Ontario Reign at Rabobank Arena Saturday night.

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    By Alex Horvath / The Californian

    Bakersfield Condor LW Matt Marquardt shot on goal as Ontario Reigh defender Pat Bowen trys to stop in first period action at Rabobank Arena Saturday night.

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    By Alex Horvath / The Californian

    It was looking bleak for the near-capacity crowd at Rabobank Arena Saturday night as the Condors were being shut out by Ontario Reigh near the end of the final period, with thousands of teddy bears and stuffed animals waiting to be tossed onto the ice upon the first Condor goal.

    click to expand click to collapse
  6. 6 of 6

    By Alex Horvath / The Californian

    Bakersfield Condors watch the stuffed animals fly over the glass onto the ice, after scoring in the third period.

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BY MIKE GRIFFITH Californian staff writer mgriffith@bakersfield.com

Scott Freeman saved Teddy Bear Toss Night.

At least for the fans.

Trailing 3-0, with time running down and the Ontario Reign on a power play, Freeman stole the puck in the neutral zone, raced in alone and beat Reign goaltender Darcy Kuemper with 7 minutes and 47 seconds remaining to a standing ovation and a torrent of stuffed animals.

His goal ignited the Condors, who scored again two minutes later to cut the lead to 3-2, but the Reign added another goal with 2 ½ minutes left to seal a 4-2 victory.

A near-capacity crowd of 8,776 packed Rabobank Arena on Saturday night wanting mainly one thing -- a Bakersfield goal.

This was the 13th annual TBT game where fans bring stuffed animals to the rink to toss on the ice when the Condors score their first goal.

And so the fans, and their bears, waited. And waited. And waited.

There was a misfire 6:07 into the third period -- Matt Marquardt's shot from the right circle hit outside netting, which prompted the tossing of several hundred teddy bears.

It wasn't close to a goal and despite the plea of public address announcer Kevin Bartl to not throw the bears on the ice, scores more rained down.

The premature tossing finally ended and the wayward bears were quickly scooped up and seven minutes later action resumed.

The Condors (5-12-1) had a couple of near misses on a power play after that before the Reign went on the power play that resulted in the unlikely short-handed goal.

"It was nice to finally get one," said Freeman of his team-high 10th goal. "It would have been nice a little earlier."

It took a bit over 10 minutes to clear the ice of the thousands of bears and the Condors kept up the pressure, drawing within one when defenseman Justin Pender scored off a feed from Freeman.

But the back breaker was J.D. Watt's goal with 2:33 left, which came off a turnover in the defensive end.

"That's a good goaltender over there," Condors coach Matt O'Dette said of Kuemper said. "We didn't get enough traffic in front of him, didn't capitalize on our opportunities early. We got down 2-nothing then it's the tack-on goals.

"We're never out of a game but when you give up the third and fourth goals from breakdowns ... I mean we make a push back and it's the third and fourth goals that kill us. It's been like that five or six times this year."

The crowd was teased early as the Condors spent a good deal of time in the first period in the Ontario zone and got off several quality shots on Kuemper only to see Ontario's Bill Bagron score with 3:09 left in the period.

The Condors had three great scoring opportunities in the second period and got just one shot on goal from those.

Peter Boyd hit the post with a drive from the right side 2:30 into the period and Kuemper made a glove save on a shot from the slot by Mathew Sisca at 5:27. Then, with 5:10 left in the period, Jessie Gimblett sent a redirection just wide on an odd-man rush.

By then it was 2-0 as Derek Couture scored a power-play goal midway through the period.

Ontario's third goal came of the stick of Kyle Kramer, 3:24 into the third.

Notes

* Rookie center Thomas Frazee, who decided to go back to school, has been suspended by the Condors. Frazee had one goal and three assists in 13 games.

* Saturday night's crowd was the fifth largest in Teddy Bear Toss history. The Condors first goal was the latest in history.

* The Condors and Reign play again today at 5 in Ontario. Bakersfield returns home on Friday to host the Alaska Aces in the first of back-to-back games.

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