Bakersfield Condors lose home opener 3-2 to Ontario Reign

Coachella Valley Firebirds fell to the Bakersfield Condors 3-2 in their season opener at Acrisure Arena in Palm Desert, Calif., on Friday, Oct. 13, 2023.
Coachella Valley Firebirds fell to the Bakersfield Condors 3-2 in their season opener at Acrisure Arena in Palm Desert, Calif., on Friday, Oct. 13, 2023. /

The Bakersfield Condors have a disappointing home opener, as they lose 3-2 to the Ontario Reign and fall to 1-1-0 on the season.

Thanks to a strong roster, the Bakersfield Condors entered the 2023-24 AHL campaign with high hopes. These hopes only increased, when they started with a 3-2 road win versus last season’s Calder Cup finalists, the Coachella Valley Firebirds.

However, any expectation of the momentum carrying over into Saturday’s home opener was sadly misguided. The Condors lost 3-2 to the Ontario Reign, who had spoiled another home opener just 24 hours earlier, versus the San Diego Gulls.

If we’re being honest, the 3-2 final scoreline actually flattered the Condors. Not that they didn’t put in the hard work or effort; it’s just that they were second-best on the night, in front of 6,038 fans at Mechanics Bank Arena.

The signs were there early on that it was going to be a long night, and throughout the first period. Even though the period ended tied at 0-0, the Condors were significantly outshot 11-3.

Unfortunately for the home fans, it got worse during the second period .The Reign took a 1-0 lead just under three minutes into the period, courtesy of a Tyler Madden low shot past Calvin Pickard.

Despite the Condors being outshot 15-6 during the second 20 minutes, they managed to tie the game up at 1-1 at the 12:52 mark of the period. Greg McKegg scored his first goal of the season, thanks to a nice deke which helped him beat the Reign goalie.

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However, the euphoria of tying the game lasted just 37 seconds, as the Reign regained the lead through that man Madden. It was a scrappy but heads-up goal by the forward, and the Condors were down 2-1.

The third period had barely started, when the visitors increased their advantage. Charles Hudon tore through the Condors defence, before shooting past Pickard and making it 3-1.

While the Condors did play better during the final period and outshot the Reign 8-6, they didn’t score again until there were just 21 seconds left in the game. Xavier Bourgault managed to slot home a rebound for his first goal of the season, but it proved too little too late.

Overall on the night, the Condors were outshot convincingly, 32-17. They also failed to convert on either of their two power play opportunities, although they similarly held the Reign to 0-2 with the man advantage.

Coach Colin Chaulk was honest in his assessment, when speaking to the media postgame. He said:

"“We looked like a team (playing) game two of the season. Ontario have played four and it was our second one. We felt like we were fighting it, we were late a little bit tonight. I don’t know if anybody was really exceptional. I would say overall it wasn’t our night. I would say positively we got a little bit better as the game went on, but there wasn’t one player that really stood out, that really had a light shining on them.”"

Next. Is it time for a Condors call up for the Oilers?. dark

With the loss, the Condors drop to 1-1-0 on this young season. Next up, they will host the 4-0-0 Henderson Silver Knights on Tuesday night.