The crowd was on its feet, the Bakersfield Condors had the momentum in their homer opener and 35 seconds later it was quiet at Rabobank Arena.
Las Vegas' Charlie Cook finished an odd-man rush with what proved to be the game-winning goal, four minutes and five seconds into the third period as the Wranglers won 3-2, spoiling Bakersfield's homer opener Sunday afternoon.
The Condors were playing their third game in less than 72 hours and arrived home after 3 a.m. following a 6-5 loss to the San Francisco Bulls on Saturday night. The Wranglers were playing their first game of the season and led 2-1 after two periods when Parker Stanfield evened the game.
Stanfield scored his second goal of the night 3:20 into the final period, but before the fans could settle back into the their seats, Cook delivered the knockout punch for Las Vegas.
"We can't give up a goal right after we got the momentum and tie the game up, (then) give up a 4-on-2," Condors coach Matt O'Dette said. "The very next shift the puck's in the back of our net and we're down again."
Still, as was the case Saturday night, the Condors had a golden opportunity to tie the game again. On Saturday, they came away empty from a 5-minute power play (including two full minutes of a two-man advantage). On Sunday, they struck out on back-to-back power plays, the first starting with 7:42 remaining.
"We need some work on our power play, but there needs to be a little bit of a sense of urgency when we're in those situations," O'Dette said. "Breakouts and entries, getting it set is one thing but we're making bad decisions. It's not so much what we're doing, it's execution. We've got to execute when we have the opportunity."
The Condors were 1-for-6 on the power play, also missing on a two-man advantage in the second period. Stanfield scored a power-play goal eight minutes into the first period to give the Condors a 1-0 lead.
"Our power play looks pretty darn good at the start of games," O'Dette said. "(Saturday night) we were 3-for-3 in the first three power plays, then we didn't get anything in the last few. We got the first one tonight, then nothing to show for it when it counted in the third when we got our opportunities."
One area of concern for O'Dette is how and when opponents are scoring against the Condors.
Las Vegas tied the game 1-1 when Judd Blackwater scored with less than three minutes left in the first period, and took a 2-1 lead on a Adam Hughesman goal with 47 seconds left in the second. Then there was the game winner right after Bakersfield's tying goal in the third.
"We got that early season making mistakes at the wrong times," O'Dette said. "Starts of period, ends of periods, shifts after goals, taking a penalty after a goal, getting scored on the very next shift after we tie the game up.
"It's just knowing when the momentum shifts are in the game and knowing how to respond to them."
The Condors were the only team in the ECHL to open with three games in three days and they will get a day of rest today before getting back on the ice to prepare for home games against San Francisco on Friday and Saturday nights.
"We're going to learn, we're going to get better," O'Dette said. "Obviously some rest will be nice. We're the only team starting three in three. That's not easy. We'll regroup and be better."
One step in being better was taken Sunday when forward Alex Hudson, who played 19 games with the Condors last season, was signed and played.
"He's hungry," O'Dette said. "He's a bigger body, strong kid. He's going to crash and bang, be a little more physical. I felt it was something we needed. We have some room (on the roster)." Hudson got a lot of shifts and had an assist on Stanfield's second goal. ...
The size of the crowd was not announced but it was not anywhere near the normal 5,000- or 6,000-plus for typical Friday or Saturday night openers. ... Defenseman Tyson Gimblett and forward Nick Prockow were scratches. Defenseman Francis Meilleur played his first game of the season.