CONDORS: Bakersfield have Eagles on brink of elimination in Game 4
Condors will try to end the series at four games on home ice
BAKERSFIELD, CA - They're the hardest games to win.
Elimination games, that is, and the Bakersfield Condors will have an opportunity to out the Colorado Eagles on Saturday when the two teams meet for Game 4 at Rabobank Arena.
The Condors don't want to stop The After Party. As a result, the club is entering into Saturday's tilt with the same mindset as they have throughout the regular season as well as early in their Round 1 matchup.
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"We're happy with the way we've been playing this series," said forward Tyler Benson. "We've been getting better and better each game. On home ice, especially, we feel confident going into this game."
The Condors have been vocal about just how motivating their crowd has been all season and in the playoffs. On Saturday, the seventh man will be in full effect as there's a chance a new Condors playoff attendance record could be set, which would surpass their current record of 7,219 set in 2007.
"I thought Rabobank was jumping the other night," said Head Coach Jay Woodcroft. "It was an extra jolt of energy for our team.
"This is an elimination game. Every shift counts. Every minute counts. We don't know when the critical points in the game will be but we know that we're going to have to be ready for the entire 60 minutes and if it goes past 60 minutes, we got to be ready for that."
LIGHT THE CANDLE
It can't be understated. The team to score first has been the team to win that game all series, so lighting the lamp early is of utmost importance.
That aspect of the match isn't getting lost on the Condors, who have embedded quick starts as part of their identity.
"We always try to start with a sense of early urgency to our game," said Woodcroft. "That's just who we are and what we believe in. They're going to be a desperate team playing for their playoff lives. We have to match or exceed that level of desperation."
Elimination games are a separate entity entirely, and potting the opening marker will go a long way towards ending the series on Saturday, so the players believe.
"A quick start is big for the game," said Benson, who has yet to register a point in the series. "It's good for momentum. Just being able to score that first goal has helped us huge throughout the series and we want to try to do that again tonight."
Asserting their dominance right from the get-go is the focus, at least for defender William Lagesson, who's been a major piece of the back end.
"We're just going to come out harder than them and show them right off the bat that we are here to win," he said.
The Condors didn't hold a full practice Saturday but the group that won 5-2 on Tuesday is expected to remain unchanged in Game 4 - meaning the club could go with 11 forwards and seven defencemen once again.
An extra rearguard in the mix has been no issue for the D core, who have all been able to contribute on both sides of the puck.
"It's been great," said Lagesson, who has one goal and one assist in the series.
"As a D core, we've been working on getting pucks through. Now we got Evan Bouchard as an offensive defenceman on the team, too, and he really had a great game last game."