Two days before the first ever AHL outdoor game on the west coast, the Bakersfield Condors defeated the Stockton Heat 3-2 Wednesday night at Stockton Arena.
Centre Derek Grant brought the Heat level in the third period with consecutive scores before Bakersfield’s Matthew Ford pushed a rebounded puck past Heat goaltender Joni Ortio on a power-play with two minutes left to play to seal the victory for the Condors.
Facing Stockton for the first time, NHL veteran Ben Scrivens was masterful for most of the evening for Bakersfield, making 44 saves, including 18 in the second period.
"Their goaltender played well and I thought we had some good quality chances, especially in the second period where he made some saves," head coach Ryan Huska. "We just have to bear down on our opportunities from the inside. Tonight we had a lot of shots come from the outside and we weren’t able to find the goals that we needed."
Grant tied the game with five minutes left in the contest by redirecting Dustin Stevenson snipe for his team-leading eighth goal of the season. The notch came less than ten minutes after he broke through Scrivens’ minding with a loose puck poke to put the Heat on the board.
"The effort was there in the third period, but we have to play three periods just like that," defenceman Aaron Johnson said. "Unfortunately, our first two periods weren’t our best and we leaned on our third period to get us back in the game like they have for last little bit. We have to play three periods like we did the third tonight and we’ll have a lot different outcome."
In his fourth multi-goal game of the season, Grant paced Stockton with 11 shots on goal while right winger Emile Poirier contributed with nine.
Ortio made 20 saves in his third loss of the season.
The defeat drops Stockton’s record to 8-10-0-2. Friday’s event at Raley Field in Sacramento, California will pit the two teams against each other for the fifth time this season and will be televised live on the NHL Network with the initial puck drop set for 8:30 p.m. MT.