Up and Down in Condorstown

Faceoff

What a difference a night makes.

After a dreadfully lame performance Friday night and a corresponding 3-1 loss to the San Antonio Rampage, the Bakersfield Condors completely turned their fortunes around on Saturday night and did so against one of the best teams in the entire AHL.

Jordan Oesterle scored twice – his first two goals of the season and first two-goal game as a pro – and Eetu Laurikainen earned his first pro win in North America plus a 30-save shutout to boot in a 4-0 Condors win over the Ontario Reign.

“We talked about the kind of game plan we wanted to execute after last night’s kind of deflated game and we came out and we executed it so it was nice to get the win. We kind of got a bit of an eye-opening watching the video (of Friday’s game) and everyone came back with the right mindset. We wanted to play a hard game. (Friday) We didn’t really compete. We were a little soft, we didn’t pursue the puck, we didn’t hit people. We didn’t really play our type of hockey but we came back and we looked good tonight.” -Oesterle

LINEUP

Goaltenders

Laurkainen

Brossoit

Defence

Reinhart – Oesterle

Simpson – Musil

Gernat – Nikitin 

Forwards

Hamilton – Miller – Ford 

Moroz – Khaira – Kassian

Chase – Roy – Christoffer 

Jones – Currie – Kessy

FIRST PERIOD


  • Right off the hop, the line of Mitch Moroz, Jujhar Khaira and Zack Kassian get in deep on the forecheck looking to cycle the puck behind the Ontario net. Khaira tries a shot from the slot that is tipped wide by Moroz. Khaira follows the puck behind the net and drives the Reign’s Kevin Raine into the boards.
  • Greg Chase picks up a pass at centre and shows some speed coming down the boards but he can’t drive the puck to the net.
  • Josh Currie takes a penalty and Bakersfield is on the PK. Sean Backman gets the only good chance for the Reign and it is snared by Eetu Laurikainen. Kale Kessy actually has the best chance on the power play with a shorthanded rush from centre but his shot sails over the net.
  • The intensity between the nearby California rivals picks up. Martin Gernat pinches down and throws a hip into Reign winger Justin Auger. As the play comes back up ice, Moroz blasts Auger into the wall and Ontario’s Derek Forbert responds by chasing after Moroz. The Condors wind up on the power play but it is cut short when Matthew Ford is called for a hook.

SECOND PERIOD


  • After an early good save from Laurikainen to keep it scoreless, Nikita Nikitin picks off a pass at centre and swings it to Ford but he fires wide.
  • The Reign think they’ve gone ahead as the puck is knocked out of mid-air past Laurikainen but the goal is immediately waved off as a result of a high stick.
  • Bakersfield gets a lengthy two-man advantage but they can’t buy a goal. First, Nikitin and Oesterle both break their sticks trying slappers from the point. Nikitin then rings one off the post. Seconds later, Nikitin clangs the other post. The rest of the power play is then wiped out by another call on Ford in the offensive zone.
  • With the teams skating 4-on-4, Marco Roy is fed a perfect cross-ice pass but his aim is off. Then shorthanded, the Condors get a chance as Currie is on a breakaway but his first attempt and rebound are both whiffs.
  • Khaira follows up his own shot with a couple pokes at a loose puck that draws some angry attention from Ontario’s Andrew Crescenzi. Back the other way and Laurikainen snaps out his glove to snare a shot from Jeff Schultz.

1-0 CONDORS – Khaira has the puck in the corner and makes a heady pass as he spots Oesterle creeping in from the point. Oesterle snaps it to the top shelf behind Ontario goalie Peter Budaj. GOAL: Oesterle (1) ASSISTS: Khaira, Hamilton 12:57

2-0 CONDORS – Ford is somehow left all alone on the far boards as he takes a pass from Kellen Jones. Ford’s first shot is stopped by Budaj but he puts away the rebound. GOAL: Ford (16) ASSISTS: Jones, Musil 14:53

  • Ford bowls over Raine deep in the Ontario end.

3-0 CONDORS – Bakersfield goes on the power play and off the draw the puck comes back to Oesterle. His hard shot goes off the post and in. GOAL: Oesterle (2) ASSISTS: Miller, Roy 17:54

  • As he heads off on a change, Kessy winds up going to nose to nose with Ontario enforcer/agitator Paul “Biz Nasty” Bissonnette. Kessy keeps going and Bissonnette decides to give Kassian a try. Kassian draws Bissonnette into an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

THIRD PERIOD


  • Auger’s rough night continues as he is called for a penalty for shoving Musil into Laurikainen and the Bakersfield net.
  • Moroz gets tagged with a suspect slashing call. While he heads to the box, Bissonnette tries to rile things up and winds up taking a 10-minute misconduct which pretty much ends his night.
  • Laurikainen has the hot hand still as he grabs a shot off the stick of Zach Leslie.

4-0 CONDORS – Currie makes a deft little pass to the front of the net for Kessy. The rugged Condor shows some nifty mitts as notches a beauty with a backhand under the crossbar. A sweet play all around. GOAL: Kessy (6) ASSISTS: Currie, Jones 14:26

“I know Kess has hands like that. I watch him every day. You give him that opportunity, he does have pretty good hands around the net for a guy you wouldn’t expect to have hands like that.” -Condors head coach Gerry Fleming

  • Ontario gets two late power plays but puts nothing together.

THREE STARS

  1. Jordan Oesterle – Bakersfield 
  2. Eetu Laurikainen – Bakersfield
  3. Matthew Ford – Bakersfield

Attendance: 6,124

“We played a smarter game tonight. We talked about the ability to make the simple plays well, execute them consistently and I thought we did that. Guys take pride in their game. They understand that there’s people in some cases that come a long way to watch them play so every night you have to bring it. Every night you have to go out and at least compete. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to win every game but at least you have to go out and give the effort to win.” -Fleming

From the Nest

The Condors season-long lengthy hurt parade took another hit from Friday’s game as Joey LaLeggia suffered a significant injury to his ribs and may miss the remainder of the season. Also sitting out for the Condors were Phil McRae, Josh Winquist, Anton Slepyshev, Tyler Pitlick, and Kyle Platzer.

Admirable Effort

With injury replacements like Greg Chase, Marco Roy and Josh Currie all up in Bakersfield, there’s not much left in the prospect cupboard with the Oilers’ ECHL affiliate in Norfolk. Goalie Ty Rimmer and centre Alexis Loiseau have spent some time in Bakersfield but have since returned to Double-A. The lone name of any consequence with the Admirals who hasn’t seen a promotion yet this season is defenceman Ben Betker, the 6-foot-6 defenceman that the Oilers picked in the sixth round of the 2013 draft from the WHL’s Everett Silvertips. His play this season has certainly warranted a look with the Condors but that hasn’t come to fruition just yet.

“I was excited to have a puck-moving, hard-to-play-against guy on the back end that can play both sides of special teams and he has lived up those expectations at this point. It’s also surprised me how physical and tough he can be at such a young age competing against grown men. It’s always a numbers game within an organization and as long as there are healthy bodies in Edmonton and Bakersfield, it’s hard to call him up to sit in the stands. He needs to play lots of minutes which he is doing in Norfolk. If the situation presented itself, he’d be more than ready to jump in and do an admirable job.” -Norfolk Admirals head coach Eric Veilleux