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CONDORS: Excitement rises ahead of Condors' first AHL playoff home game

"Any time you can have the crowd that we do behind us, it's almost like having six guys on the ice," said forward Joseph Gambardella following Monday's practice

by Paul Gazzola /

BAKERSFIELD, CA - Condorstown will be able to feast its eyes on American Hockey League Playoff hockey for the first time on Tuesday at Rabobank Arena.

Bakersfield is no stranger to watching hockey in the months of April and May. Prior to their migration to the AHL, the organization and community experienced 15 postseason berths when competing in the West Coast Hockey League and ECHL.

Video: CONDORS | First for Bakersfield 04.22.19

The franchise failed to qualify for the playoffs in their first three years of competing in the AHL but the 2018-19 season changed that. The club soared to new heights during the campaign after achieving a 17-game win streak, perching atop the AHL's Western Conference and Pacific Division. 

So, naturally, the excitement is flying high ahead of Tuesday's Game 3.

"Everybody is fired up. Everybody is behind this team," said Condors Head Coach Jay Woodcroft, who brought the club to the playoffs in just his first season as head coach. "We use the word 'connected' a lot this year and 'connected to our community' was a big part of that.

Video: RAW | Joseph Gambardella 04.22.19

"This is the first American Hockey League (playoff game) this community will be exposed to. I can tell you that just from talking to neighbours and seeing people on the street, there's an excitement that's palpable in this town... They're excited to see the intensity and competition of a playoff game. We know that it's going to get our fellas really fired up."

Games 1 and 2 in Colorado at Budweiser Events Center proved how impactful home-ice advantage can be. Eagles fans stood, yelled and cheered for 120 minutes of postseason action in their barn. 

Now, the Condors are excited to have their own seventh man in the lineup.

"Any time you can have the crowd that we do behind us, it's almost like having six guys on the ice," said forward Joe Gambardella following Monday's practice. "We're really excited. We're back on home ice and we get to have that culture and all those fans cheering for you."

Video: CONDORS | Round 1

Even Woodcroft confirmed how monumental the Condors faithful can be.

"I think that our fan base gives us a competitive advantage, especially when this arena is rocking the way it can," he said. 

"Down the stretch, we know that it propelled us to a lot of victories. We're looking forward to making this community proud by laying it all out there in Game 3."

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