If you somehow don’t know what’s going down tonight and tomorrow… pic.twitter.com/KM5QBPO4qV
— Bakersfield Condors (@Condors) December 26, 2015
The Bakersfield Condors got key contributions on Saturday night from a veteran defenceman who loves to rush the puck like a forward, and a defenceman who is now playing forward.
Brad Hunt – playing in his 233rd AHL game – scored twice, while rookie pro Joey LaLeggia – the former Hobey Baker Award-nominated blueliner now playing left wing – added one goal as the Condors topped the Stockton Heat 5-3 on Saturday night. A matchup of the Pacific Division’s cellar-dwellers, it was the third time the Condors had played the Heat in their last four games, and the first AHL start of the season for ECHL call-up and cancer survivor Ty Rimmer.
“I haven’t played forward since I was pretty young. Growing up, I always wanted to play forward but coaches would never let me. Gerry approached me before and asked me I wanted to play there if we were short bodies. He’s done a very good job with me along with JF and Tony (assistant coaches Houle and Borgford). They’ve shown a lot of confidence in me, given me a lot of leeway and a lot of rope, and made me feel comfortable, and I’m having a lot of fun with it.” -LaLeggia
Gernat – Hunt
Reinhart – Oesterle
Simpson – Musile
Hamilton – Miller – Ford
Moroz – Platzer – Slepyshev
LaLeggia – Roy – Chase
Kessy – Currie – Christoffer
— scott hernandez (@1schernan) December 27, 2015
- Griffin Reinhart opens the game with a horrendous giveaway, trying a cross-ice pass in his own zone toward Anton Slepyshev, but Kenny Agostino is right there and forces Condors goalie Ty Rimmer to make a save right off the bat.
1-0 CONDORS – Another giveaway. This time Dillon Simpson turns it over but he manages to get it right back and lead the rush up ice. Simpson dishes off to LaLeggia who cuts to the middle and whips it past Heat netminder Joni Ortio. GOAL: LaLeggia (4) ASSIST: Simpson 1:40
“If it was a perfect world everybody would score on their first shift. You get comfortable and a lot more confident early and it’s pretty easy to build off when you have a successful first shift like that.” -LaLeggia
- Back-checking on a 2-on-1, Mitch Moroz slashes the stick out of the Heat player’s hands and he’s sent off. On the PK, Rimmer makes a good stop on Bryce Van Brabant and another on a one-timer by Kenney Morrison.
- Shortly after being shorthanded, the Condors get a chance as the puck is along the boards then tossed into the slot where Matthew Ford is all alone but Ortio flashes out the glove.
- Kale Kessy makes a good read to pick off a clearing attempt at the Stockton blue line. He gets the puck to Braden Christoffer down deep who then flicks it to Josh Currie but his shot is off the mark.
2-0 CONDORS – The Condors work it around the zone really well on an extended shift by the LaLeggia-Roy-Chase line. The puck comes back to Brad Hunt at the line. He walks right past two Heat forwards up high, cruises to the slot and guns it past Ortio. GOAL: Hunt (5) ASSISTS: Chase, Gernat 14:54
- Moroz makes like a wide receiver as catches a high pass over the middle and fends off a tackler to get clear for a hard shot on Ortio.
- Rimmer comes up big by getting his toe on a close-in poke off the stick of Emile Poirier.
- The LaLeggia-Roy-Chase line continue their lunch-pail work behind the net and LaLeggia just misses on a high backhand. Of note, this is Roy’s first game at centre since last season which was his final year of junior.
— Bakersfield Condors (@Condors) December 27, 2015
- Bakersfield goes on the power play just 29 seconds in and interestingly it kicks off with Moroz, Chase and Slepyshev up front with Reinhart and LaLeggia manning the point. LaLeggia’s shot from the high slot is stopped and Moroz can’t get a swipe at the loose puck by the goal post.
2-1 – Defenceman Jakub Nakladal puts a floater on net that might have been tipped just after its initial release. Rimmer never sees it. GOAL: Nakladal (2) ASSISTS: Grant, Van Brabant 4:26
- Kessy makes like a bull and runs through Flames high-end prospect Oliver Kylington deep in the Stockton zone.
3-1 CONDORS – With Roy in the box, David Musil finds Ford and he’s gone on a partial breakaway from centre. He gets to the top of the circle and puts a shot off the shoulder of Ortio who is already on his knees for some reason. The puck goes off the goalie and dribbles across the line for Ford who moves into a tie for eighth in goals in league. GOAL: Ford (12) ASSISTS: Musil, Platzer 8:49 (SH)
- The Heat think they’ve answered right back on the power play but Poirier’s goal is waved off as Rimmer was bumped in the crease.
- Moroz gets going on a partial breakaway off the wing and guns a slapper that Ortio stops. Moroz has a crack at the rebound but puts it off the side of the net. Right after that, Chase tips a pass from the behind net right to Roy who just misses tucking it in.
4-1 CONDORS – Kessy does well to win a battle behind the net outworking the Heat defender to the puck. The puck is worked back to Hunt at the point, he heads to the net, and then behind it where he banks a shot in off a Stockton player. GOAL: Hunt (6) ASSISTS: Christoffer, Kessy 13:10
- A rough outing for Kylington continues as Kyle Platzer bumps him off the puck inside the Stockton zone and then puts a hot shot off Ortio’s mask.
— Bakersfield Condors (@Condors) December 27, 2015
- Rimmer makes a smart read as instead of chasing towards a puck, he waits in his net and makes a good stop on Ryan Lomberg who beat the Condors back at the Bakersfield blue line.
“He’s been working hard in practice and we just felt he deserved an opportunity. We put him in there and he played well.” -Head coach Gerry Fleming on decision to start Rimmer
4-2 – Simpson mishandles the puck at Stockton blue line. Rimmer makes the save on the rush and Simpson swipes the loose puck off the goal line. Unfortunately, the puck goes right off Josh Currie and into the net. GOAL: Van Brabant (3) unassisted 4:09
- The best battle of the night. Christoffer is knocked down on a hard bump by Agostino. Christoffer gets up and returns fire, knocking Agostinto down twice. Christoffer then dishes out a slash that is called. On the delay and with the Heat headed up ice, Agostino strides to the bench but on his way he slashes the stick out of Gernat’s hands and he’s whistled as well.
- There’s rarely good open-ice hits in 4-on-4 but Hunt connects with a solid hip check on Van Brabant in front of the Stockton bench.
4-3 – Still in 4-on-4, the Heat get another break and again on a long floater that goes all the way through from the point. GOAL: Van Brabant (4) ASSISTS: Nakladal, Grant 11:52
- The Heat put some pressure on for about 10 seconds. That might be because the officials miss that there’s six Stockton skaters on the ice until the Bakersfield bench finally gets them to notice. Nothing on the ensuing Bakersfield PP.
- Stockton’s Freddie Hamilton looks pretty childish sitting on the ice and slamming his stick after a non-call. Seconds after that, Chase is called for a hook but Lomberg negates a Heat PP as he is tagged for embellishment.
5-3 CONDORS – Jordan Oesterle clears the zone as he looks for Platzer to redirect the puck at centre towards the Heat zone. Platzer’s well-timed tip goes all the way to dead-centre of the empty Stockton net. GOAL: Platzer (5) ASSISTS: Oesterle, Gernat 18:49
“We’ve had youngsters in our lineup pretty much from the beginning of the year, but I like the fact that they’re starting to figure it out a little bit more.” -Fleming on contributions from Platzer, Chase, Roy and other prospects
- Brad Hunt – Bakersfield
- Matthew Ford – Bakersfield
- Bryce Van Brabant – Stockton
“We took care of the puck, didn’t turn it over when we had it, we chipped it out and chipped it in, and it makes a huge difference. When we’re scrambling around in their zone, they’re tired, they’re chipping it into our zone and changing, and we’re getting the puck and going back there. Puck possession was huge tonight.” -Brad Hunt
From Russia Without Love
Fleming addressed the surprising departure of prospect centre Bogdan Yakimov who left the Condors with no warning last week to play for his hometown team in Russia.
“He felt it was a chance or an opportunity to make the national team (for the World Championship) so he went back. It was unfortunate for us to lose him but he felt he needed to go back to give himself the best opportunity,” said Fleming.
From the Nest
The Condors scratched Ben Scrivens, Tyler Pitlick, Phil McRae, Kellen Jones, and Josh Winquist. Jones (lower body) and McRae (Valley Fever) did take the morning skate but there’s no timetable for their return nor that of Pitlick … LA Kings scout Dave Taylor took in the game.