The Stockton Thunder extended a losing streak to four games by failing to hold a third-period lead on Monday night (Dec. 26).
After wiping out an early deficit, the Thunder yielded two goals down the stretch and suffered a 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Bakersfield Condors before a crowd of 4,195 at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield, CA.
Peter Boyd’s goal with just two minutes, 49 seconds left in regulation time snapped a 2-2 tie and allowed the Condors to win for only the second time in their past 18 games. Boyd’s goal came barely more than two minutes after Bakersfield’s Matt Marquardt had put a rebound past Stockton goalie Thomas Heemskerk to get the Condors out of a 2-1 hole.
Casey Pierro-Zabotel had the other goal for Bakersfield, and Stockton’s goals were scored by Nathan Deck and Ian O’Connor.
“We made a couple of critical errors in the third period,” Thunder Coach Matt Thomas said by telephone after the game. “You can’t leave guys open in front of the net. We did, and they scored. It’s a pretty disturbing trend we’re on right now. This is stuff you should learn when you’re a kid.”
The Thunder (12-12-3) had taken the lead when O’Connor scored to break a 1-1 tie just 1:59 into the third period. Ryan Martindale and Sebastian Owuya had assists on O’Connor’s goal, which was his seventh of the season.
After the goals by Marquardt and Boyd, a penalty against the Condors for too many men on the ice gave Stockton a power play with 1:45 left to play, but the Thunder was unable to capitalize despite pulling Heemskerk for an extra attacker to create a 6-on-4 advantage.
For the game, Stockton was 0-for-6 on extra-man opportunities, marking the first time in six games the Thunder failed to score at least one power-play goal.
The Condors (7-20-3) outshot the Thunder 13-8 in the first period and forged ahead 1-0 at 8:47, when Pierro-Zabotel deflected a shot by Joe Loprieno past Heemskerk. The Thunder had a power-play opportunity two minutes after Loprieno’s goal, but came up empty. The Condors also failed to score on their only power-play chance of the first period and continued to cling to their 1-0 lead at the first intermission.
The score remained 1-0 until Deck scored off assists from Kevin Baker and Bretton Cameron with just 51.3 seconds remaining in the second period to leave the teams locked in a 1-1 tie at the second intermission. Earlier in the period, Heemskerk prevented the Condors from opening up a two-goal lead by stopping Boyd on a breakaway while the teams were skating 4-on-4.
Heemskerk finished with 32 saves but saw his record slip to 8-5-0. Bakersfield goalie Matt Keetley earned the victory by making 28 saves.
The Thunder, which entered Monday’s game fresh off an eight-day holiday break, concludes a brief road trip by visiting the Las Vegas Wranglers for a special midnight game Tuesday night (Dec. 27).
Before the game, the Edmonton Oilers reassigned forward Milan Kytnar to the Thunder from the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League. Kytnar was not in uniform against Bakersfield, but is expected to be available for the game at Las Vegas. Kytnar played in seven games with the Barons and had one assist. Prior to joining the Barons, he had five points (three goals, two assists) in nine games with the Thunder.
Thunder captain Jason Morgan returned to the lineup after being activated from the injured reserve list, but Stockton played without suspended forwards Garet Hunt and Jordan Foreman. Hunt and Foreman will be out again for the game at Las Vegas, but will be eligible to return to action when the Thunder returns home for games against the Ontario Reign on Friday and Saturday nights (Dec. 30-31).