Stockton was good early, the Condors were better late.
That was the difference on Friday night as the Condors rallied for a 3-2 victory at Rabobank Arena.
The Condors tied the opening game on an ECHL Western Conference semifinal matchup with two goals in the final 12 minutes of the second period and captain Joel Broda scored the game-winner five minutes into the third off a bad-angle shot that eluded Brian Foster.
Broda's goal came when he turned and fired the puck from low in the right circle after his line had spent a long shift in the Thunder zone.
"I thought back to to (Andrew) Carroll's goal last series (an overtime winner from a bad angle in Game 4 against Utah) and just wanted to throw it at the net and got (Foster) off guard," Broda said. "We'll take it."
Laurent Brossoit stopped 24 shots in the win while Foster stopped 21.
The Condors trailed 2-0 when Ryan Watson started the comeback when he scored from the low slot off a rebound 8:27 into the second.
"That was huge," Broda said. "We need a spark there. And those guys went out there and did it. Just a greasy playoff goal crashing the net and shooting it at the net and it goes in.
"It was a huge goal and really lifted us. I thought we kind of took over from there."
Stockton held a Condors power play at bay shortly after that, regained a bit of momentum, but lost it when Chase Schaber came open in the slot and made a coupel of nifty moves before beating Foster with 1:13 left in the period to tie the game.
"We talked about how we need to play against those guys and I thought physically they were the better team early," Condors coach Troy Mann said. "They were taking it to us and being more physical. We need to play as physical as they are or even more because that's part of our style and part of our game.
"The Watson goal provided some momentum and, to get that second goal was big."
The Condors fell behind 14:47 into the opening period when former Condor Nicholas Tremblay came open in the slot and beat Brossoit for the first goal of the game.
It is the first time the Condors had not scored the first goal in six playoff games.
Just over a minute later, Brossoit kept it a one-goal game when he stopped Andrew Clark on a breakaway, which led to a Stockton power play.
The best opportunity on that power play was a short-handed breakaway by Broda with Foster making the stop with 3:25 left in the period.
Stockton's Ryan Hayes out the Thunder up 2-0 five minutes into the second on a shot from the high slot.
"I thought we got better as the game went on," Mann said. "I really didn't like our start. We looked a bit nervous early. Their speed certainly was evident but I thought we got our composure. We talked about after the second period that we were playing OK.
"In the third I thought we were excellent. I know we got the goal to win the game, but I thought defensively we were real superb there and I thought we shut things down pretty good in the third period."