BAKERSFIELD, CA - The Bakersfield Condors flew to new heights on Saturday, extending their winning streak to 12 games to establish a franchise record.
It's a Bakersfield Dozen in Condorstown, as the Condors clipped the San Diego Gulls by a score of 7-1, improving their record to 28-15-2-1 and taking hold of first in the Pacific Division with 59 points - supplanting the San Jose Barracuda, who Bakersfield defeated on Friday night.
Video: CONDORS | Leading The Way
"We're having fun right now," said Condors Captain Keegan Lowe. "I keep using the word 'swagger' because that's how we're playing. When you're doing this well, sometimes things get away from you but we haven't seen that at all.
"If we keep playing like that, we're going to keep rolling."
Head Coach Jay Woodcroft praised his player personnel for their achievement post-game.
"Full credit to our players," he said. "You can really see how they care for each other, play for each other and work for each other.
"Standing on the bench and watching them execute is very nice to see as a coach."
Shane Starrett, who's played otherworldly during his club's success spree - winning 10 games in a row and allowing two goals against or less in nine of them - backstopped his club with a 26-save performance, setting the tone early in his back-to-back appearance with a kick save on a Max Jones breakaway less than 20 seconds into the match.
"He's been unreal," said Lowe of his netminder. "Since we've been hot here, his numbers have been remarkable."
The stellar stop allowed the Condors to turn up ice and open the scoring, with Cooper Marody finding a wide-open Tyler Benson in the slot for an easy tap-in.
"Sometimes the team needs that save right there to get going," said the keeper.
Up by one to enter the second, the Condors spread their wings in the middle period, scoring five times - twice at even strength, once on the power play and twice shorthanded. Second stanzas have become the team's 'set-up' period, providing them with the offence they would need to close it out in the third.
"We make a big deal of it," said Woodcroft. "So far, it's been a hallmark of our group."
William Lagesson picked up his fourth goal of the year, popping home a rebound past Gulls netminder Jeff Glass to begin the frame.
Josh Currie - named Condors player of the month before puck drop for the 31st time in franchise history - then sniped his 21st of the season off the rush, extending the club's lead to 3-0.
Kailer Yamamoto put the Condors ahead by four on the power play. The 2017 first-round selection eluded a check in the offensive zone then orchestrated a give-and-go with Ryan Spooner for his fifth as a Condor.
When it appeared as though the Gulls would get opportunities to get on the board on the power play, the Condors scored consecutive shorties. Joe Gambardella blocked a pass in the defensive zone then turned up ice on a 2-on-1, electing to keep and find twine short side.
The play was duplicated on the next Condors penalty kill, this time with Gambardella dishing a backhand pass to Russell's blade for a swift one-timer. Gambardella set a new Condors AHL record point streak with his first of two points, extending his to 10 games. He has 11 goals and six assists over that span.
"As a goalie, you feel for him (the opposing netminder) a little bit," said Starrett. "Our second period has been our best period all year. It was good to get those goals and take that into the third period."
Condorstown is captivated by the Condors' accomplishment, as 6,112 fans were on hand to show their appreciation for the club and their new record after the match.
"I feel like we're exciting them but they're exciting us," said Lowe. "The city is getting behind us and it's been a lot of fun to play in front of them."