The Condors' lineup was short on manpower Saturday night. No matter, however. They still had more than enough ammunition to blow the Ontario Reign out of the water.
Bakersfield topped Ontario 7-0 at Rabobank Arena. It was Star Wars Night, and an announced crowd of 7,932 came out to cheer on the home team.
The Condors (37-17-3-1) kept a firm grasp on first place in the Pacific Division with 78 points. In turn, Ontario (21-28-6-2, 50 points) remained entrenched in the cellar.
Judging from the two teams’ records and standing in the playoff picture, the Condors appeared to be heavy favorites and proved that to be true right from the opening faceoff. Nevermind the fact that Bakersfield was down multiple players entering the contest.
Kailer Yamamoto and Patrick Russell were both out with upper-body injuries and Joe Gambardella was called up Friday night to the Edmonton Oilers. When factoring in that veteran stalwarts Brad Malone and Josh Currie are with Edmonton as well, and Bakersfield could have be considered five men down from its regular lineup.
Regardless the Condors jumped on Ontario right from the start, taking a 5-0 lead in a startling first-period performance.
Rookie Jakob Stukel got extended ice time in his second game with the Condors and delivered with his first two AHL goals. The first came off a rebound following a straight-away shot from defenseman Ethan Bear. Stukel gathered the puck and ripped it home past goaltender Cal Petersen, who was on the ice after making the initial save. The second came on Stukel’s second shift of the contest when, off balance, he gathered a loose puck in front and flipped it past Petersen.
The Ontario goalie entered the game with an 0-2 record and a 6.27 goals against average in three games against Bakersfield this season. Needless to say, he wasn't able to stop the bleeding on Saturday.
Cooper Marody scored the third goal of the game off an assist from Tyler Benson. Bear netted a power-play goal at 15:57 of the first period with a shot from the point. And Benson added another power-play marker with 17 seconds to go in the first when his shot from the left side deflected off an Ontario defenseman and into the net.
All told and it was a four-point night for Benson (one goal, three assists) and Bear (two goals, two assists). Benson’s 55 points are a new Condors single-season AHL record. Bear, who was an NHL call-up last year, now has four goals and 24 assists in 45 games this season.
The Condors outshot the Reign 30-23. It was the third time in five games Bakersfield has scored at least seven goals, and the team has netted five goals in a period six times this year.
Ontario finished 0 for 8 on the power play. Shane Starrett pitched the shutout in net for Bakersfield.