It was a problem early in the season, disappeared for a while but has reared its ugly head once more.
The Bakersfield Condors are taking too many penalties and it’s starting to cost them games.
The Condors trudged to the penalty box seven times on Tuesday at Rabobank Arena on Field Trip Day and the Ontario Reign scored a pair of power-play goals en route to a 3-2 victory before the 10th largest crowd in Condors history — 8,810.
The annual Field Trip Day game features students from Kern, Kings and Tulare counties being bused to Rabobank Arena for an opportunity to take in the festivities. The puck was dropped at 10:30 a.m.
“I thought actually our penalty kill was really strong,” Condors coach Jay Woodcroft said. “The problem is we had to do it too much. Our discipline was lacking. We took eight penalties (seven power-play opportunities).
“They scored their first goal after we shot the puck over the glass and created a 5-on-3 opportunity for them.”
Up to that point, the Condors had pretty much controlled play and had a 1-0 lead, thanks to David Gust’s goal 4:28 into the second period.
But a hooking penalty by Ethan Bear was followed by Luke Esposito’s clearing attempt 28 seconds into the penalty kill that sailed over the glass to give the Reign a two-man advantage.
Matt Moulson whistled a shot from the right circle past Al Montoya at 7:35 and the game was tied.
The Condors found themselves on the PK two more times in the period after that and Ontario connected on the second one, with Matt Roy’s shot from the point sailing through traffic to make it 2-1 at 16:27.
“(That) was a goal against we’d like to have back,” Woodcroft said. “That (penalty) was a penalty a long way away from our net. Certainly we’re best as a team when we’re checking with our legs and not with our sticks and not getting frustrated and taking frustration penalties.”
Still, the Condors were down just a goal and early in the third had an opportunity to tie the game when they went on their own power play.
But the Condors managed just one shot and Ontario’s Bokondji Imama scored what turned out to be the game winner from the low slot at 5:06.
Bakersfield made it a one-goal game when Mitch Callahan redirected a pass from Tyler Benson for a power-play goal at 12:02 of the third.
That was just the second power play goal in 27 attempts over eight games, but was a relief for Woodcroft.
“We’ve been working on the power play, made a few adjustments late in the game and the power play got us one which was great,” he said. “It just didn’t fire early for us.”
And that was the difference in the game. The Condors were 1-4 on the power play; the Reign 2-7.
Despite having more penalties, the Condors outshot the Reign 37-25.
“It was a real competitive game,” Woodcroft said. “There were only 25 shots on net against having to kill (seven) penalties and that’s something we can build on. We’re going to tighten up our discipline, going to rewatch the game tape and look for areas of improvement.”