Logan Day netted the game-winner in the third period, while netminder Shane Starrett made 24 saves as the Condors go up 1-0 in their series versus Colorado
LOVELAND, CO - The After Party came as publicized.
It was loud, fast and exhilarating - with no shortage of dance partners - as the Bakersfield Condors defeated the Colorado Eagles 3-2 in what was an entertaining and competitive playoff grudge match.
Logan Day scored the game-winning goal, Brad Malone and William Lagesson recorded a goal and assist each, Patrick Russell tallied a pair of helpers and netminder Shane Starrett stood tall with 24 saves on 26 shots to backstop his club to a 1-0 best-of-five series lead.
"We asserted our game right off the bat," said Condors Head Coach Jay Woodcroft post-game. "We were spending time and shifts in the offensive zone and grinding them down. We were shooting the puck and made some nice plays."
The Condors' veteran line of Joe Gambardella, Malone and Russell set the tempo for Bakersfield, asserting pressure deep in the Eagles' zone and throwing as many pucks as they could at Colorado goalie Pavel Francouz to no avail.
"I really liked our start tonight," added Woodcroft.
Following the Condors' early storm, the Eagles turned up ice and sent shots of their own at Starrett, who was tested 11 times in the first.
The netminder got some luck from his goal post on Colorado's opening shot but didn't need any when he kicked out to stop Martin Kaut off the wing and Cody Bass in-tight late.
Forward Malone put the Condors on the board at 9:17, squeaking a shot past Francouz as a plethora of bodies provided chaos in front of him. It was the Condors' first playoff goal in their American Hockey League history, with the assists being awarded to Lagesson and Russell.
Before a minute passed in the second period, the Colorado Eagles netted the equalizer. Defenceman Mark Alt caught a pass at the point and walked in untouched, releasing a wrister that Starrett couldn't get a piece of.
But with the fists flying, the pace slowing and the penalty box filling, the Condors took the lead while skating 4-on-4.
Russell found Caleb Jones in the slot and the defender looked shot but went pass, connecting with his fellow defender Lagesson at the side of the cage. The Swede had nothing but net available, putting home his first career AHL playoff goal and second point of the night.
"It became a much more deliberate game through the neutral zone for both teams," said Woodcroft of the second period.
Bakersfield took the 2-1 edge into the third where they navigated an up-and-down roller-coaster ride.
Colorado thought they had scored the game-tying marker when a scrum ensued in Starrett's crease. The goalie was run over by a Colorado skater, unable to stop a flick shot from going in, causing all in attendance to rise.
After a brief review, the refs deemed the play no goal but that didn't deter the Eagles.
At 5:48 of the 3rd and with Starrett's pad fastened to his right post, the goalie appeared to have the puck covered but no whistle blew. Colorado defenceman David Warsofsky identified the live play and pushed in the puck to knot the affair at 2-2.
"He (Woodcroft) taught us from Day 1 we have one way to play," said Day. "If we're down or tied, we just stick with everything and it usually works out in our favour."
Day regained the lead for Bakersfield less than a minute later and scored what would stand as the game-winning goal with a laser from the slot.
Gambardella fed the rearguard with a perfect pass and Day roofed it on Francouz. The former Endicott College Dman became the second Condors blueliner to score on the night, joining his good friend Lagesson.