Bulls clip Condors for first road win
Wednesday night in Ontario, the Bulls let a late third-period lead slip through their hooves.
Friday night in Bakersfield, they didn’t dare make the same mistake.
Two goals each from Jordan Morrison and smooth-skating Dean Ouellet sealed the Bulls’ first road win, a gritty 5-3 triumph over the home Bakersfield Condors.
Both teams seemed to need a mid-first period throwdown between Bulls’ tough guy Scott Langdon and Condors bruiser Tyson Gimblett to find some energy.
Seconds after the Bulls failed to score on a power play, captain Justin Bowers stole a pass as a delayed penalty expired, then scored on a feed from Ouellet to put the Bulls up 1-0 with 2:57 left in the first.
After four games, Bowers leads the ECHL in scoring with six assists and three goals.
Bakersfield would tie the game with 46 seconds left in the first period, when Condors standout Levi Nelson buried a rebound given up by Bulls goalie Thomas Heemskerk for his third goal of the season.
Ouellet would rack the only score of the second period, going forehand then backhand to target the five-hole of Bakersfield goalie Brian Stewart.
The Bulls’ first line of Bowers, Ouellet and Peter Sivak — who have so far shined for the Bulls — would pressure Stewart all night. Only the hard-luck Sivak hasn’t yet hit the scoresheet. Ouellet joins Bowers among the top five ECHL scorers this season.
After a tense second period, both teams exploded for five goals in a wide-open third period before 4,031 fans at the Rabobank Arena.
The Bulls would once again be burned by an early tally, as Condors’ forward Parker Stanfield pushed his third goal of the season past Heemskerk just 58 seconds into the third period to tie the game at two.
In contrast to Wednesday, the Bulls bore down mentally after the game-tying goal.
After holding off several chances from Bakersfield, the Bulls would take the lead for good on a goal from Jordan Morrison in front of the net at 6:35 in the third. Keaton Turkiewicz would pick up his first pro point with the assist.
Morrison and Sivak were both jamming away at a loose puck in front of the Condors’ net when Morrison got enough stick on the puck to jam it past Condors’ tender Stewart.
An unassisted goal at 9:00 from Ouellet would bump the Bulls lead to 4-2 before the Condors’ Brett Perlini closed the gap to 4-3 with less than three minutes left in the game.
After Morrison tallied again — also assisted by Turkiewicz — the Condors would pull goalie Stewart for an extra attacker with 1:50 left in the third — to no avail.
The Bulls clamped down to close the game, sealing their first road win in franchise history. Goalie Heemskerk would pick up his first win as a Bull, pushing his save percentage to .900 for the season.
Keeping with common practice in the ECHL Western Division, the Bulls will face Bakersfield again Saturday night as part of a road back-to-back before heading north — way north — to Alaska for a three-game series against the Anchorage Aces next weekend.