The Bakersfield Condors historic run came to an end Friday night.
The Condors, holding a 17-game win streak entering their home game against the Iowa Wild, lost 1-0 at Rabobank Arena.
Their 17-game run was tied for second-most all-time in the AHL’s 83-year history with the 2004-05 Philadelphia Phantoms. The league’s all-time record continues to be the 2011-12 Norfolk Admirals’ streak of 28-straight victories.
Even so, Bakersfield’s play for the past two months created considerable buzz locally. Nearly 7,000 fans were in attendance Friday night in hopes of seeing the home team get one more.
Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.
"We acknowledged the fact the team has been on an excellent run, one that these guys will remember for the rest of their lives," said Condors coach Jay Woodcroft. "At the end of the day, we played a good hockey game tonight and that's the way it crumbles sometimes for you."
As Woodcroft alluded to, it’s not as if the Condors — who outshot Iowa 30-16 on the evening — didn’t have their chances.
It started early, as the team walked away empty handed in the first period despite having a plethora of opportunities to get on the board.
The Condors whistled a number of shots wide, hit a crossbar and then the side of the net on a power play, and were stoned cold a number of times by Wild goalkeeper Andrew Hammond, who had the hot hand throughout.
While Bakersfield put 14 shots on net in the first 20 minutes — many of which came on the doorstep — Hammond turned them aside.
Conversely, as the Condors couldn’t capitalize on a 5-on-3 power play opportunity to open the game, the Wild cashed in moments later when a string of Condors were escorted to the penalty box. Bakersfield was tagged with four straight penalties and the Wild had back-to-back 5-on-3 power plays of their own.
Iowa delivered on the second, when Dmitry Sokolov ripped home a one-timer from the right circle — Sokolov pumped his fist high in the air after the marker, in conjunction with a chorus of boos from the home crowd.
The score remained the same following the second period, despite Bakersfield putting 23 shots on net compared to just nine for the Wild. The Condors put heavy pressure on Hammond and the Wild defense in the closing minutes of the second but, again, couldn’t cash in.
Outside of another hit cross bar at the outset of the third, Bakersfield’s chances dried up down the stretch as Iowa went into a conservative, defensive game plan while clinging to the one-goal advantage.
The Condors finished the night 0 for 5 on the power play.
“We ran into a goaltender who has NHL experience, he made some big saves,” Woodcroft said. “We couldn’t find the polish to finish the chances. I think you worry when you’re not getting the chances. Tonight we had the chances, we just didn’t convert.”
The Condors (33-16-2-1) remain in first place in the Pacific Division standings, three points up on second-place San Jose. They’ll host the Barracuda on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Iowa improved to 29-17-6-5 and stands in third place in the Central Division.