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CONDORS: Eleventh Heaven

The Condors tie a franchise record with their 11th consecutive victory, defeating the San Jose Barracuda 3-1 Friday at Rabobank Arena

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

BAKERSFIELD, CA - Go crazy, Condorstown.

Because the Bakersfield Condors have won 11 consecutive matches to tie a franchise record after dispatching the Pacific Division-leading San Jose Barracuda by a score of 3-1 Friday at Rabobank Arena.

Joe Gambardella tied the Condors' franchise point streak record set by Rob Klinkhammer in 2017, extending it to nine games with a goal in the second period. Josh Currie also sniped his 20th of the season, making it the third consecutive year he's reached that mark.

This win, though, was all about the team.

"It's impressive. It really is," said Currie, who ended the night with two points. "I can't say enough about the guys in that locker room."

Pitting their 10-game winning streak up against the top club in the Pacific Division, the Condors had to battle back for the victory after the Barracuda opened the scoring in the first.

An unfortunate bounce in the defensive zone prevented the Condors from breaking out, granting the Barracuda a chance at the net. A rebound popped out to San Jose forward Antti Suomela, who deposited the puck in for the 1-0 lead.

Bakersfield had their chances at the other end, getting close to notching the equalizer before the end of the opening frame. Cameron Hebig was delivered a net-front feed from Gambardella and just missed the handle on an open net when he shifted to his backhand on goalie Josef Korenar.

With the period winding down, Currie - who teamed up with Tyler Benson earlier in the period to stifle a 3-on-1 attempt by the Barracuda - dished a heads-up pass to Cooper Marody in the slot while Caleb Jones ran a route to the net. Marody's blast went wide, keeping the Condors trailing 1-0 after 20.

Bakersfield Head Coach Jay Woodcroft emphasized his club's ability to treat winning 'as a skill' during the team's successful stretch, and that was evident in the middle period.

"We weren't in love with our first period but we thought we responded in the second period, which is our set-up period," said the Condors coach.

The Condors scored early to tie the game then never relented, tucking twice more to make it a 3-1 game to enter the third.

Gambardella's marker came just 1:17 into the stanza, as the forward caught a piece of Ryan Spooner's shot to beat Korenar and extend his point streak to nine matches. 

Keeper Shane Starrett then showed how he's been able to sustain his nine-game winning spree. The keeper was tested on a 2-on-0, fastening his shoulder to the short side to keep the Barracuda from scoring.

That paved the way for Bakersfield to tilt the ice back the other way, with Currie picking up his 20th of the season at 9:11 of the middle period. 

The fourth-year Condor fanned on his initial one-timer from between the dots but corralled the puck and whistled a wrist shot past Korenar to make it 2-1. Currie has played 233 career games in Bakersfield, compiling 72 goals, 65 helpers and 137 points.

"I owe the fans and the organization a lot of thanks just for getting the opportunity to play," Currie said post-game.

Edmonton, AB, product Benson chipped in with an insurance marker later in the frame. The 2016 second-round selection went to the blue paint to put back Currie's rebound, giving the Condors a two-goal lead. He finished with two points on the night, increasing his point total to 37 with his seventh of the campaign and 30th helper.

A goal-less third, thanks in large part to Starrett - who's allowed two goals against or less in eight out of his last nine - cemented the victory for the Condors.

After 11 in a row, Woodcroft wants his club to continue playing to their identity.

"We just know if we play towards our identity, if we play with some energy, some passion and keep things simple, that we give ourselves a chance to win," he said.

The Condors will try to set a new franchise win streak on Saturday when they host the San Diego Gulls.

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