Lander, LaLeggia lift Condors over Gulls, 3-1
Unable to come back from an early 2-0 deficit, the San Diego Gulls fell to the visiting Bakersfield Condors 3-1 on Saturday night.
The Gulls got off to a hot start on Valley View Casino Center’s beach night, firing a flurry of shots at Condors goalie Jonas Gustavsson to start the first period. San Diego would head into the first intermission ahead of Bakersfield in shots 19 to six.
Despite the onslaught of shots, Gustavsson defended the net admirably, keeping the net clean through the first 20 minutes of play.
The same couldn’t be said for Gulls goalie Kevin Boyle.
San Diego’s Nic Kerdiles fell victim to a high hit from Condors center Mark Olver late in the first period, sending Olver to the penalty box for roughing. Condors center Andon Lander, however, muted the 12,499 fans in attendance just seconds into the Gulls’ power play with a short-handed goal assisted by Condors’ Patrick Russell and Jordan Oesterle, putting Bakersfield up 1-0.
Russell, the Condors’ team leader in games played (59) now has 16 points this season.
The Gulls continued to pour the shots on in the second period, but the Condors were the only birds to find the back of the net.
Despite pushing their shot total up to 36 through the second period, the Gulls fell to a 2-0 deficit when Condors left winger Joey LaLeggia scored a power play goal off a deflection. Assists were awarded to Bakersfield’s Greg Chase and Lander.
In need of a high-scoring third period to pull off the comeback, San Diego turned to Kerdiles for some firepower.
Earning his revenge for the early high hit, Kerdiles poked the puck in behind Gustavsson for the score with assists from Gulls’ Sam Carrick and Keaton Thompson to close the gap to 2-1 with 13:08 left in the third period.
With newly found wind beneath their wings, the Gulls pushed an otherwise quiet crowd to their feet with a series of good chances, but Gustavsson held strong through the Gulls’ momentum.
Entering the night with team highs in goals against average (2.31) and save percentage (.920), Gustavsson notched 44 saves to earn the number one star of the night. He was able to coast towards the end of the game while the Gulls were tasked with killing two late power plays, the latter of which kept alive by LaLeggia’s second goal of the night.
Now the Condors’ second-leading goal scorer with 18, LaLeggia found the back of the net with assists from Oesterle and Lander.
With his two assists and first-period goal, Lander pushed his team lead in points up to 50 on Saturday. He now has three goals against the Gulls just this season.
San Diego then pulled Boyle out of the net to make a last-ditch effort down 3-1 with just over a minute left in the game, but the Gulls, of course, fell short of the mark.
Despite the loss, the Gulls clinched a spot in the postseason with the Stockton Heat’s 5-4 shootout loss on Saturday.
Next, the Gulls will take their skates to Tucson, Ariz. to take on the Roadrunners on Friday.
The Condors will hope to carry their momentum into a home affair with the Manitoba Moose on Tuesday.