WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Jujhar Khaira scored a pair of goals and rookie goaltender Nick Ellis stopped 30 shots in his pro debut on Tuesday night as the Bakersfield Condors opened their American Hockey League season with a 4-1 win against the Manitoba Moose.
“I thought we played pretty well overall,” Condors coach Gerry Fleming said in a phone interview. “I thought there was a good pace to the game; both teams were moving pretty well. I liked the way we moved the puck around.”
The Condors never trailed. Khaira gave Bakersfield a 1-0 lead with four minutes left in the first off of a highlight-reel pass from Taylor Beck, who did a 360-degree spin at the left circle then fed a backhand pass to a driving Khaira at the top of the crease.
Scott Kosmachuk tied the game for Manitoba with 2:30 left in the first.
Scott Allen put the Condors up 2-1 at 6:15 in the second and Khaira made it 3-1 with a minute left in the period. Joey Benik found the empty net with a minute left for his first pro goal.
Ellis was tabbed to backup Laurent Brossoit for the Condors, but Brossoit was recalled to Edmonton on Monday after an injury to Jonas Gustavsson.
“He was solid; I thought his rebound control was good,” Fleming said of Ellis. “He didn’t get many shots the first 12 minutes, which is always nerve-racking for a goalie.”
Fleming also thought the defense was solid.
“The defense was moving the puck well,” he said. “They did a good job of boxing out early and letting Nick see the puck. When there were rebounds, they did a good job of clearing and moving the puck to the corners.”
The Condors play in Winnipeg again Thursday before returning to Bakersfield for their home opener against Tucson on Saturday.