Condors First Impressions

Laurent Brossoit came onto the ice to the biggest ovation from the crowd and then earned every bit of the accolades.

The Edmonton Oilers top goaltending prospect was tested right off the hop on a breakaway less than a minute in and rejected the scoring bid. It was pretty much smooth sailing the rest of the way, even surviving a video replay in the dying moments en route to pitching a 31-save shutout as the Condors won their inaugural game in the AHL with a 1-0 victory over Todd Nelson’s Grand Rapids Griffins.

“I really noticed it when I first came out that there was a lot of support. I made a couple of lucky stops that got me into the game. Making a save on a breakaway definitely got me into it.” -Brossoit

LINEUP

GOALIES

Brossoit

Laurikainen

DEFENCEMEN

Hunt – Oesterle

Nurse – LaLeggia

Pageau – Musil

FORWARDS

Miller – Draisaitl – Pakarinen

Hamilton – Yakimov – Pitlick

Christoffer – Khaira – Platzer


Moroz – McRae – Ford

FIRST PERIOD


  • Joey LaLeggia turns over the puck at the Griffins blue line resulting in a breakaway but Brossoit turns aside the chance for Mitch Callahan.
  • Darnell Nurse let a man get behind him on the penalty kill but made up for it right away with a good stickcheck on Mitch Tangradi.
  • The first of way-too-many shorthanded opportunities surrendered by Condors is stopped by Brossoit. Grand Rapids’ Andreas Athanasiou begins being a thorn in the side of the Condors all night, drawing a penalty on the kill.
  • Detroit prospect Tyler Bertuzzi gets flattened by David Musil and then starts a night-long trend of putting Joey LaLeggia hard to the ice. Bertuzzi then takes a stupid penalty by trying to lure Braden Christoffer into a fight.

SECOND PERIOD


  • The Condors come out with a better physical presence as Jordan Oesterle throws a neat hipcheck at the blue line, and Mitch Moroz plasters Robbie Russo to the glass.
  • The first of several chances for the Condors comes as Leon Draisaitl sets up Iiro Pakarinen in the slot. Pakarinen gets another opportunity seconds later when Draisaitl’s deflected pass puts him clear in front of the net.
  • Bogdan Yakimov makes a smart defensive play with a diving stickcheck at centre that breaks up a potential 2-on-1.
  • A onetimer from Draisaitl nearly sneaks through the pads of Griffins goalie Tom McCollum. McCollum came up big again with a glove save on Pakarinen.
  • Draisaitl is in alone from centre and gets hauled down. Penalty shot. He goes in at slight angle and looks 5-hole but the shot goes off the inside of McCollum’s skate.
  • Mitch Moroz and Matthew Ford get chances that are turned aside, and Yakimov does some nice one-man cycling along the halfboards and sends a cross-ice pass to Darnell Nurse but the wrist shot is denied.

THIRD PERIOD


  • LaLeggia nearly gives the puck away right in front of the net. Fire drill.
  • Nick Pageau goes after his own dump-in, tangles with McCollum behind the net, and the puck nearly winds up getting jammed in.
  • Jujhar Khaira puts in the effort coming out from behind the net, cutting in front, and powering his way in tight before being denied.
  • Miller speeds his way in and the Condors nearly put it away but the puck goes astray. However, Ford draws a high-sticking call.
  • Draisaitl gets called for a trip but the Griffins don’t get much on the power play.
  • 1-0 Condors – Pakarinen drives the net and Andrew Miller is in the perfect spot to tap in the rebound with 1:43 left. The whole play was helped by the fact that one of the Grand Rapids defencemen broke his stick which gave Bakersfield more of an advantage on the 3-on-2 break.

“(Head coach) Gerry (Fleming) said that a rebound was probably going to be the way to bury it. It was going to be a gritty goal. We’d never played together as a line so it took a little time to figure each other out but we made some plays and had some good scoring chances.” -Miller on the game-winner and his line

  • The Griffins think they might have tied it up with 31.4 seconds left when a shot comes off the endboards and gets redirected off Brossoit’s back. An exasperatingly long video review confirms it is no goal.

“I knew 100% it wasn’t in but because it was such a long review I started doubting it but I asked the goal judge there and he said no so I was pretty confident.” -Brossoit

FROM THE CONDORS NEST


Despite being a scoreless game for the better part of 58 minutes, the game was far from dull. Grand Rapids came out hard-nosed in the first, and the Condors showcased some offensive flare in the second. Both goalies made key saves and there was some feistiness even with the game so tight.

“We talked between the second and third and said if we’re going to win tonight it’s going to be a greasy goal. We’ll get some pucks to the net, get some people there, and we’ll hack away and get some second and third opportunities. In today’s game, the goaltenders are so big, so athletic and so quick that if you’re not getting a volume of shots on the net and second and third opportunities you’re going to have a tough time scoring.” –Fleming on the end result, and a 40-shot effort

Iiro Pakarinen is not long for the AHL if he keeps playing the way he did. He created chances with speed and wasn’t afraid to take it to the net with a bit of a Glenn Anderson approach.

“He rips the puck, he can shoot it really well, and has good vision. He’s tenacious and he’s a good player to play with. You want him on your line and on your team.” -Miller on Pakarinen’s performance

Tyler Pitlick was good at both ends of the rink with some jump on offence. He played on the PK and PP.

“I thought he was strong on the forecheck, he had a couple good chances, and he ragged the puck well. But his play away from the puck was straight lines, he didn’t cut corners, so not only did he play well with the puck but he did some good things without it as well.” -Fleming on Pitlick’s game

Of course it’s a substantial jump from the NCAA ranks to the AHL but Joey LaLeggia better figure it out quick or he’s going to get hurt … or hurt his team. The former Hobey Baker Award nominee is stunning to watch on the rush but he got blown up and knocked over all night. When he was upright in his own end, he makes decisions and passes that put his team in danger.

The announced crowd of 5,169 should probably be regarded as a bit of disappointment considering the hype of Bakersfield’s AHL debut. But Friday night crowds here pick up after the high school football season and overall get larger after American Thanksgiving.


Kale Kessy, Josh Winquist, Martin Gernat and Nikita Nikitin did not dress. Nikitin and Scrivens are still waiting for visa clearance. Or is that code for ‘waiting for a trade’?

OF NOTE…

Three Stars

1. Andrew Miller – Bakersfield
2. Laurent Brossoit – Bakersfield
3. Tom McCollum – Grand Rapids

  • Oilers brass in the house – Bob Nicholson, Pete Chiarelli, Kevin Lowe, and Craig MacTavish