LOVELAND, Co. – It was a game of special teams breakdowns as the Colorado Eagles and Bakersfield Condors combined for just one successful power play of the 14 total. Following an impressive, clean game one, both teams came out playing significantly more physically. In the end, Andrew Agozzino and the Colorado Eagles evened the series at 1-1 with a 4-1 win over Bakersfield on Saturday night.
The Eagles did not take long to get things started, as Julien Nantel scored his first of the playoffs and just his second goal of the entire season.
The Condors responded well, gaining more offensive zone time as the period continued. Once again, Shane Starrett and Pavel Francouz kept their team in the game for the majority of Saturday night.
Colorado carried the lead to the first intermission, despite only recording one shot in the first 12 minutes of action.
Early in the second, similar to Friday night, Colorado believed it had scored a goal, and had it wiped off the board. The Eagles believed the puck tucked into the top corner and out but after review, the referees decided it went off the post.
Later in the period, while killing a penalty, Agozzino found the puck in the defensive zone and began an offensive rush. After carrying the puck into the offensive zone, he buried it over Starrett’s shoulder, doubling Colorado’s lead shorthanded.
The second period was a story of missed opportunities on the man advantage. The Condors went 0-for-4 in the second period alone on the power play while allowing one goal against during that time.
The stymied forecheck of Bakersfield constantly left the Condors rushing behind the play, forcing Starrett to make saves deep in the second to keep the game at just 2-0 entering the second intermission.
The Condors began the third with leftover power-play time and made the most of it. As the penalty expired, Patrick Russell tipped in his first goal of the postseason off a rocket shot from Ethan Bear.
As the game continued, Bakersfield became more undisciplined and took four unanswered penalties in the third period. As expected, Colorado capitalized on one of those penalties – a slashing call to Ryan Stanton. After entering the zone and dancing around two Condor defenders, Agozzino added his second tally of the night to make it 3-1 for the visitors.
After the third goal for Colorado, the wheels came off for Bakersfield. Between taking penalties, giving the puck up in the neutral zone and struggling to clear the puck out of the defensive zone, the Condors were struggling to find consistency in their game.
With just over two minutes in regulation, Bakersfield used its timeout and pulled Starrett, attempting to use the extra skater to its advantage. The Condors were met with solid defensive work as the Eagles only allowed one quality chance. As the clock fell to under ten seconds remaining, Agozzino found the empty net to complete the hat trick.
Starrett received the loss, stopping 18 of the 21 shots he faced. Francouz earned his first professional playoff win in a 29-save affair.
The Condors failed to convert on any of the seven power-play opportunities they faced. Colorado finished 1-for-7 on the man advantage, and scored a shorthanded goal.
Agozzino, Mark Alt, Anton Lindholm, and Cody Bass all finished +2 while combining for only five shots, all of which were taken by Agozzino.
The win marked the first Calder Cup playoff win in Colorado Eagles history.
The Condors hope to bounce back when the Calder Cup playoffs make their first-ever stop in Bakersfield on Tuesday night. The best-of-five series is tied 1-1, and has become a best-of-three. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. PT (9:05 p.m. CT).