The Bakersfield Condors will start their quest for the Calder Cup on Friday at Colorado. The top-seeded Condors and the Pacific Division’s fourth-seeded Eagles will drop the puck for Game 1 of the best-of-five series at 6:05 p.m. at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, Colorado.
“It’s going to be a tough challenge,” Condors head coach Jay Woodcroft said. “It’s a tough building to play in. It’s a passionate fan base. They’re a quality hockey team. They’re in the playoffs for a reason. We have our work cut out for us, but what I like about our team is that we’re prepared. We’re enthusiastic. We have a great team spirit and a good plan.”
Bakersfield finished the regular season 42-21-3-2 and with the best winning percentage in the Western Conference. The Condors were 4-3-0-1 against the Eagles and led the AHL in scoring, averaging 3.56 goals per game. Tyler Benson and Cooper Marody combined for 130 points and finished second and third, respectively, in the AHL in rookie scoring.
Condors forward Joe Gambardella’s 29.9 shooting percentage during the regular season was the highest by an AHL player since the statistic was first tracked in 1992-93.
Colorado went 36-27-4-1 and had the sixth-best penalty kill in the AHL, successfully escaping 84.1 percent of its man-down chances. Forward Andrew Agozzino tallied a team-high 26 goals and 34 assists for the Eagles.
“They’re a good team and we’ve had a good series against them all year long, so it should be fun for us,” Gambardella said. “But we’ve done what we needed to do in order to have a chance for success.”