ANCHORAGE, AK -- Gary Steffes’ game-winning goal at 2:53 thwarted an Alaska Aces third period comeback and the Bakersfield Condors escaped, 3-2 in overtime, at Sullivan Arena on Saturday in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final.
The Aces, who fell to 14-11 all-time in overtime stages for the Kelly Cup Playoffs, rallied again in the third period and erased a 2-0 deficit on goals by Evan Trupp and Brendan Connolly. Laurent Brossoit earned the win 24 saves while Aces goaltender Gerald Coleman, absorbing his only two postseason losses in overtime, stopped 19 shots.
With a tight-checking approach seizing play in the first period, where the Aces outshot Bakersfield 4-3, the Condors struck first again on Jordan Knackstedt’s fourth postseason goal at 9:55 of the second period on a wrister from between the circles.
Following a contested interference penalty to Sean Curry, the Condors capitalized for a 2-0 lead with the Aces caught scrambling in their zone. Greg Miller and George Hughes connected on a pass to Collins, left wide open at the right circle, who tucked his third goal of the playoffs at 12:28.
With the Aces limited to just 13 shots through 40 minutes, they responded on Trupp’s sixth goal of the playoffs at 5:28 of the third period, cutting the deficit to a goal on a wrister launched under the crossbar on Brossoit.
Connolly then cashed in on a wide open net to send Sullivan Arena into delirium, tying the game at 2-2 with 6:23 left in regulation.
The Aces followed the momentum swing with two good looks at the net to open overtime. But Connolly, open at the left wing with 20 seconds elapsed, misfired on a rolling puck. Brossoit then turned away Brett Findlay’s snapper at the right circle, after the Aces rookie forward turned defenceman Wes Cunningham around on a deke to the inside.
Steffes ended the game on Bakersfield’s only shot in overtime, a wrister off the rush that was parked under the crossbar.
NOTES: The Aces scratched Brad Richard, Drew MacKenzie, Andy Taranto, Peter Sivak and Ross Ring-Jarvi ... the Aces fell to 9-2 in the postseason … captain Nick Mazzolini was held scoreless for only the third game in the postseason … the loss snapped a six-game winning streak for the Aces in the head-to-head playoff series and was their first at home in the postseason against Bakersfield.
KELLY CUP PLAYOFFS – WESTERN CONFERENCE FINAL
GAME 1 - Aces win 2-1 to take a 1-0 series lead
GAME 2 - Condors win 3-2 in OT to tie the series 1-1
GAME 3 - Alaska at Bakersfield, Friday, 5/23 (Rabobank Arena) – 8:00 PM MST
GAME 4 - Alaska at Bakersfield, Saturday, 5/24 (Rabobank Arena) – 8:00 PM MST
GAME 5 - Alaska at Bakersfield, Sunday, 5/25 (Rabobank Arena) - TBA *
GAME 6 - at Alaska, Tuesday, 5/27 (Sullivan Arena) - 9:15 PM MST *
GAME 7 - at Alaska, Wednesday, 5/28 (Sullivan Arena) - 9:15 PM MST *
* If necessary