BAKERSFIELD CONDORS GAME #2: ONTARIO REIGN
The Condors played their first road game of the season in Ontario after last night’s 3-2 OT loss to Abbotsford. The first period showed some pretty heavy bus legs with the Condors outshot 10-4. However, Bakersfield escaped the period tied at one on the strength of a Phil Kemp goal. From there, Bakersfield absolutely locked this game down, giving a total of 12 more shots the entire game and winning 3-2. Besides winning a game on the backside of a back to back, the most impressive part was how thoroughly the Condors, as a group, contained an incredibly skilled Reign team. This was truly an example of a “team win”.
In terms of the line-up, Coach Chaulk ran 12F-6D again with the same lines and pairings going most of the evening. The 4th line did not see a lot of ice time in the second period, but were installed back into the rotation in the third period which paid dividends as Dove-McFalls scored the game winning goal.
The line combos and pairings were as follows:
A quick note that PP1 was:
The PK was a nice rotation of many players with Hamblin, Esposito, Kambeitz and Philp seeing heavier time at forward and Kaldis, Kemp, Niemelainen and Demers on defense.
Tonight’s game didn’t have a lot of breakout performances as it was more of a shut down team effort, but there were still some notable players. As mentioned before, if a prospect’s name doesn’t get mentioned below, he didn’t do much in a positive or negative manner during the game..
Who Got Noticed?
Hamblin scored a power play goal off a great seam pass from Seth Griffith and also added an assist on the first goal of the game. Like last night, Hamblin was the most relied upon Condors forward in all situations. Unlike last night, Hamblin was rewarded on the score sheet for his efforts. Hamblin is seeing most of his minutes against the other team’s top line which makes this more impressive. One thing that I believe gets him NHL games is his hockey sense. Watch this breakout by the Condors and watch Hamblin(#11) down low. Before he goes to retrieve the puck, he takes a little look to see where his players are and where the checks are. He retrieves the puck, shields off the tight check and then makes a great little mid lane pass for the exit. He processes the game at a very high level.
Another very good performance by Kostin given his limited time with the group. Again, he is a big body who has very nice hands. Tonight I was very impressed with his skating, which is more powerful than I originally thought. He made several retrievals off dump-ins, beating his man to the puck with his speed. He had another HDSC and it would be good for him to see those start going in. One note of concern, which I presume is why he’s not made the jump, is his defensive zone intensity. Up one in the third, he made a couple of lazy plays that resulted in extra zone time for the Reign. Kostin was replaced on that line for the final three shifts of the game. Something to monitor.
Led the team in shots tonight with four and was very effective again. Less high end offensive chances tonight, but a very solid game from him and his linemates. Encouraging start to the year.
Tullio and his linemates (Engarass and Dove-McFalls) had quite a roller-coaster of a game. Played a regular shift in the first. Played very little in the second for no apparent reason in terms of on-ice performance. Back to a regular shift in the third that led to a GWG by Dove-McFalls. Tullio was genuinely a pain to play against tonight. He had a monster hit in the first and had a couple of more hard checks throughout the game. His feet were moving well and he had a great third period on the forecheck. He was rewarded with an assist on the Dove-McFalls goal when he dumped the puck into the Reign zone and it bounced off a linesman right to Dove-McFalls. Really want to see him get that shot off more because I believe it can be a weapon for him.
I didn’t mention Dove-McFalls last night, but probably should have. He had three shots last night and added two tonight along with the game winning goal. Still learning this player, but it is clear he has an excellent release. He’s an older prospect, so I suspect time is not on his side. However, it should be noted that he ended up with Hamblin and Griffith for two shifts in the third period when the game was in doubt.
Niemelainen and his partner Demers were absolutely dominant tonight at even strength. When that pairing was on the ice, the Condors were plus 7 in shot share in a game that was relatively even at 5 on 5. Niemelainen was strong on entry denials tonight and on retrievals. He made three excellent exit passes and also exited the zone skating the puck an additional three times. The Niemelainen pairing was not on for either Reign goal and Neemo added a secondary assist on the game winner. I cannot express how talented this Reign team is and how impressive this performance is because of that fact.
If Phil Kemp doesn’t get NHL games as a player, he will as a coach. He is such a smart defender and that was on display tonight. He defended both blue lines very well tonight and had 5(that’s right - FIVE!) clean exits out of his zone. He might be the best 10 foot passer of this defense group and he makes life easy on his forwards. Was his usual miserable self down low in his zone taking some liberties with Reign players. He and Kaldis were plus 3 on the shot share tonight playing heavy minutes against the top Reign line. Before I forget, he scored a very nice goal to get the game started.
Condors are off now until Wednesday when they travel to Henderson to play the Silver Knights.