Condors lose out on home-ice chance with 4-3 overtime defeat to the Reign

The Condors can now finish no higher than fifth in the Pacific Division, meaning they will not have home-ice advantage in their first round playoff series.
May 3, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Jack Campbell (36) warms up before
May 3, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Jack Campbell (36) warms up before / Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

There's no denying that the Bakersfield Condors making the AHL playoffs for the fifth consecutive season, is an impressive achievement. In fact, they are one of just two Pacific Division teams to accomplish the feat within this time period.

However, if you just look at the 2023-24 campaign on it's own, the Condors are limping towards the regular season finishing line. They have been playing .500 hockey for the last month, and as a result they have now missed out on what was a genuine shot at home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

The Condors' fate was sealed on Wednesday night, following a 4-3 overtime loss to the Ontario Reign. As a result of the dropped point, the highest they can now finish in the Pacific Division is fifth place.

Killed on the penalty kill

The Condors were undone on Wednesday night by the power play. After entering the game having killed 61 of the previous 63 penalties they had faced, the Reign dismantled them with three power play goals on four opportunities.

Ironically, the only goal the Reign did score without the power play, proved to be the game-winner 2:04 into overtime. Noel Hoefenmayer inexplicably tried to pass the puck back to a teammate right in front of the Condors goal, and it ricocheted off Martin Chromiak's stick and underneath an unsuspecting Jack Campbell.

It capped a tough night for Campbell, although he still finished the game with 36 saves off 40 shot attempts on goal. It's worth noting he is seventh in the AHL with a .919 save percentage, which highlights an excellent rebound in form after struggling badly earlier this season.

The Condors had their issues on the night, but actually recovered from an early 1-0 deficit to take a 2-1 lead just 1:25 into the second period. Raphael Lavoie calmly controlled the puck in the left circle, before firing home for his team-leading and career-best 28th goal of the AHL campaign.

After this it proved to mostly be the Reign on the attack, particularly in the third period. Irrespective of having four power plays compared to just one by the Condors, the visitors still impressed in outshooting their hosts 20-7 over the final 22:04 of playing time.

Fighting to the end

If nothing else, at least the Condors didn't quit in front of the 4,505 in attendance at Mechanics Bank Arena. After falling behind 3-2 in the third, they tied the game at the 14:57 mark thanks to Ty Tullio taking the puck almost the entire length of the ice, before shooting home past Erik Portillo.

With the overtime loss the Condors dropped to 38-27-5 on the season, while also falling to 34-6-2 in games this season where they score at least three goals. Individually speaking, Tullio picked up the game's Third Star, while Matvey Petrov scored the Condors' other goal, to tie the game at 1-1 in the opening period.

Even with the opportunity for home-ice advantage now gone, Condors coach Colin Chaulk is still confident about their chances come playoff time. Speaking postgame to the media, he said: "I think what we've shown this year, is that we can beat every team in this division, and even in the central division the teams we've played. What we need to do is just focus on our will, our work ethic and our execution, and if we do that, anybody we face we're going to like our chances and we're going to give them a good, hard fight."

The Condors will now conclude their regular season with a back-to-back, home and away series versus the Henderson Silver Knights. They will play on the road Friday night and then return home for the finale the following night.

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