Olivier Rodrigue finds his form as Condors beat Roadrunners 4-1

The Condors clinch a postseason berth for the fifth consecutive season, as they make the most of their chances in a home win versus the Roadrunners.
Bakersfield goaltender Olivier Rodrigue (33) skates away from the net to stay loose during a break
Bakersfield goaltender Olivier Rodrigue (33) skates away from the net to stay loose during a break / Andy Abeyta/The Desert Sun / USA TODAY

The Bakersfield Condors are returning to the playoffs, and a big reason why is because of Olivier Rodrigue. After a recent run of three losses in his previous four starts, he came up big on Wednesday night, in a 4-1 win at Mechanics Bank Arena over the Tucson Roadrunners.

This is the fifth consecutive season the Condors have qualified for the Calder Cup playoffs. Further, they are one of only two Pacific Division teams to make the playoffs every year over the same time period.

With Jack Campbell out due to a minor injury, the Condors have had to rely on Rodrigue more than usual of late. As such, he picked the wrong time to have a poor run of results, with the team losing three of their final four games in March.

A First Star performance by Olivier Rodrigue

Fortunately for everyone concerned, the 2018 second round draft pick got back on track versus the Roadrunners. In arguably his best performance of the 2023-24 campaign, he stopped 40 of the 41 shots he faced for a season-best .976 save percentage. (The 40 saves were also one off his career-high.)

As a result, Rodrigue deservedly took home the game's First Star. Speaking to the media postgame about how he weathered the barraged of shots by the Roadrunners, he said: "The next shot is always the most important, so I had to stay ready. ... I had to stay focused, keep moving in my net and around the rink."

Condors coach Colin Chaulk also spoke to the media, about his goalie's stamina in starting the last seven games for the team. He said: "We've tried to do what we can to manage his rest and practice, touches and that kind of stuff. He's in a lot better shape. He's grown, he's matured and shown that he can handle the workload. We're really happy for him and he had a hell of a game tonight."

An early advantage for the Condors

The Condors got out to an early lead just 2:18 into the contest, through Max Wanner. Brad Malone took control of the puck and actually provided the primary assist from behind the Roadrunners goal, with Wanner well-placed to fire home for the 1-0 advantage.

The home side gave the 3,004 in attendance more reason to cheer just over five minutes later, as they doubled their lead. Alex Peters' shot from long range was saved, but Carter Savoie was on hand to slot home the rebound and make it 2-0.

The Roadrunners stepped up their game in the second period, as they outshot the hosts 19-11. However it was the Condors who would strike again, as Seth Griffith weaved his way through the opponents and set up Ben Gleason to blast home the one-timer and make it 3-0.

The visitors finally managed to break through at the 16:56 mark of the middle period, courtesy of Max Szuber. The Roadrunners hit the Condors with a two-on-one break, with Colin Theisen setting up Szuber and giving Rodrigue no chance.

Condors close up shop again

The Condors were never seriously threatened again after this, as Rodrigue held strong in the final 20 minutes. They also managed to add one more goal with just 2:26 remaining, as Griffith scored the empty-netter on a rebound after an initial shot by Dylan Holloway.

One particular statistic worthy of note is the Roadrunners going 0-for-6 on the power play, with the Condors now successfully killing 49 of the past 51 penalties they've faced. Chaulk said: "Special teams can be up and down in a season. Right now they're up and we have momentum there. We're trying to keep the pairs consistent, we're trying to create a level of pride and passion in that role, the guys that have those assignments are doing their job and the challenge is to continue doing it."

With the victory, the Condors finish the regular season 6-1-1 versus the Roadrunners. They also improve to 35-6-2 when holding at least a share of the lead through 40 minutes.

Oilers outshone by Stars in 5-0 loss. Oilers outshone by Stars in 5-0 loss. dark. Next

The Condors' record improves to 36-25-4 on the season, with them in sixth place, but just three points out of fourth place and home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs. Next up, they will host the Calgary Wranglers on Friday night, who are also in the playoffs and similarly battling for home-ice in the opening round.

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