Evan Bouchard and Evan Polei turned the third outing of the series against the Eagles into a name game
BAKERSFIELD, CA - Evan Bouchard or Evan Polei.
Who ya got?
The two Evans were instrumental in the Condors' 5-2 Game 3 victory on Tuesday, obtaining three points apiece in what was Bouchard's debut for the Condors and Polei's third outing of the series versus the Colorado Eagles.
The Condors host the Eagles in Game 4 on Saturday. The game can be seen on AHL Live or heard on Fox Sports 970 AM. Puck drop is around 8:08 PM MDT.
They share a name, so it came as no surprise that the teammates wondered who would come out on top individually in Bakersfield's marquee Calder Cup Playoff home game, where 6,214 fans showed up to watch the club take a 2-1 best-of-five series lead.
"We were making a joke about it in the dressing room," Polei, the Wetaskiwin, AB, product, said post-game Tuesday.
"Who was going to be the better Evan tonight?"
The supposed friendly competition turned into instant connection, as the two linked up more than once in the victory.
On Ryan Stanton's opening power-play goal, both Evans picked up an assist. Polei got the puck to Bouchard and Bouchard skittered it across the blue line to the veteran Stanton, who made Condorstown go crazy with the franchise's first AHL Playoff home tally.
They combined once again on Polei's first of two on the night. Bouchard placed a point shot on net and Polei changed its course to fool Eagles keeper Pavel Francouz. The goal put the Condors up 3-0 and prevented either Evan from tilting the pendulum in their favour.
When the sound horned on the match, Polei ended with two goals and one assist, while Bouchard nabbed a single goal and pair of helpers.
Unfortunately for them, they finished as even Evans. Fortunately for the club, they finished on top.
The friendly tug-of-war was comforting for Bouchard, who just a few weeks ago was leading the Ontario Hockey League in postseason points while captaining the London Knights.
The defenceman dropped into the Condors lineup like a care package and needed just over 10 minutes to make his mark.
"He kind of got airmailed in right at the start of Game 1," said Condors Head Coach Jay Woodcroft. "So, for him to be around us, feel our group, get used to our language again and get a full practice in yesterday, I think that helped him out."
Bouchard placed himself in a tie for second in American Hockey League rookie scoring and showed to his teammates what he's capable of doing as they prepare for what they hope to be is a long run, with Polei's lighthearted bet making him all the more comfortable.
"The players in the room, they're incredible," said Bouchard. "For me, that just made it that much easier. They were talking to me on the ice, making it easy, always open for me. It was easy to play with them."
For Polei, it was an example of a glue guy catering to a new guy. The livewire is one of the club's unofficial hype men with his tenacious style of play, which weaves roughness with intensity and confidence.
"He's an emotional catalyst for our group," said Woodcroft. "He protects individuals and creates space for his linemates. He's an important part of what we got going down here in Bakersfield."
It may not have been much of a competition. Rather, more of a comforting rouse. But the two Evans will have another shot at taking the name reigns when Game 4 rolls around.