BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – The Grand Rapids Griffins had their modest three-game point streak come to an end on Saturday night at Mechanics Bank Arena as the Bakersfield Condors held on for a 2-1 victory.
All three tallies were netted in the opening 13:16. Tyler Spezia scored Grand Rapids’ goal and Pat Nagle turned aside 28 shots in his third AHL appearance of the season.
Now 2-1 in their season-high six-game road trip after splitting their weekend set in Bakersfield, the Griffins (11-14-1-2) head back to San Diego to play the Gulls on Tuesday at 10 p.m. EST.
Similar to Friday’s game when Bakersfield struck early, the Condors (10-11-3-1) drew first blood at 2:33. From the left wall along the goal line, Colby Cave saucered a pass through the crease and to the right circle for Logan Day. Day then tossed the puck right back to Cave, who had set up shop alone in the opposite ring and drove home his fourth of the season past a diving netminder.
Bakersfield added to its lead with 9:23 remaining in the opening period. Dmitri Samorukov directed a shot from the left point toward a mess of six players near the blue paint. Amidst the chaos, the puck caromed off Jakob Stukel before being deflected in by Anthony Peluso for his first of the season.
Spezia cut the Griffins’ deficit in half with 6:44 left in the frame on his second career AHL goal. Skating alongside Chase Pearson at the Griffins’ blueline on a 2-on-2, Spezia banked the puck off the wall by a Bakersfield defender. As the puck and defender retreated toward Shane Starrett’s net, Spezia hustled by his opponent to retrieve the disc and slide a shot past the goalie’s right leg.
Taro Hirose nearly had his third goal in the last two games 4:46 into the middle period but his try from the lower half of the right circle was robbed by Starrett’s catching mitt. Nagle kept the Griffins in the game by compiling 23 saves through the first two frames.
Nagle again kept the Condors at bay with 12:24 remaining in regulation when he stoned Brad Malone on the doorstep with a pad save. Starrett returned the favor by absorbing Dennis Cholowski’s attempt from atop the left circle with 9:37 to play.
After Grand Rapids pulled Nagle for an extra attacker with 1:33 left, Matthew Ford was whistled for high-sticking 19 seconds later. Joe Gambardella received a double-minor for high-sticking with 10 remaining to even up the sides at four. Following this, the Griffins again vacated their cage, but their brief 5-on-4 advantage was unsuccessful. Starrett closed the evening with 20 saves.
Grand Rapids finished 0-for-1 on the power play. Including tonight’s 4-for-4 effort when a man down, the penalty kill unit has gone 26-for-27 (96.3%) in the last seven games.
Three Stars: 1. BAK Cave (goal); 2. BAK Starrett (W, 20 saves); 3. BAK Peluso (game-winning goal)
[Post content courtesy of the Grand Rapids Griffins]