It was a win-win situation Saturday night at Rabobank Arena.
First, the fifth-largest crowd in team history, 8,862, got a victory when Brad Malone scored a short-handed goal early in the second period, which led to thousands of stuffed animals flying onto the ice in the 19th annual Teddy Bear Toss game.
The Condors then broke open a tie game with five third-period goals to beat the San Antonio Rampage 7-3, creating a seemingly endless party atmosphere.
“I thought we got off to slow start,” Condors coach Gerry Fleming said. “We traveled through the night last night (after a win in San Diego) and these guys were sitting here for the last two days, resting, waiting for us. But as the game went on I thought we got better.”
Patrick Russell put the Condors up 3-2 just 3:21 into the final period when he hammered in a loose puck from the left edge of the crease.
Zach O’Brien got an insurance goal at 8:43 when he swept in the puck which was sitting just off the goalline after a blast by Ryan Mantha hit the post.
San Antonio’s Tage Thompson batted the puck out of the air in the crease for a power play goal with 2:59 left to make it 5-3. But the Condors sealed the deal when David Gust hit an empty net with 1:36 left. Russell ended the scoring with his second of the night with 12 seconds left.
Six different players tallied goals and 12 players had points.
“That’s huge and that’s got to continue,” Fleming said. “It just can’t happen one night. You need secondary and third scoring and defensemen to add in and it was nice to see that happen tonight.”
It was the second straight win for the Condors (7-8-1), who now have points in three straight.
“It’s something I’ll never forget,” said Malone of his goal 2:15 into the second period. “Any time thousands of teddy bears come flying onto the ice it’s something special.”
Malone’s goal set off a wildly entertaining, albeit long second period due to the picking up of the stuffed animals and a dry scrape of the ice to remove fur.
San Antonio got it’s own short-handed goal to tie the game at 7:35 when Felix Girard stole the puck in the neutral zone and beat Ellis as he broke in all alone.
The Condors killed off a couple of San Antonio power plays after the midway mark, then went up 2-1 when Ty Rattie scored his team-high eighth goal when he put in a rebound off a shot by Caleb Jones.
A fracas in front of Bakersfield’s net late in the period led to another Rampage goal and defenseman David Warsofsky scored from the point with 1:03 left in the period to make it 2-2.
The annual Guns N Hoses charity game pitting law enforcement against firefighters was held at 2 p.m. in Rabobank Arena, with about 1,000 people seeing the law enforcement team beating the firefighters 4-3 in a shootout. It took until roughly the seventh round of the shootout to decide the outcome.
The Condors wore special jerseys honoring firefighters which were raffled off after the game. Mascot Col. Claw’d had his jersey fetch $1,500 during the first intermission. Money raised from the Guns N Hoses game and the jersey auction will benefit Kern County Burn Survivor Trust, Bakersfield Burn Foundation and Kern Heavy Rescue.