Bakersfield, Calif. – Nic Kerdiles scored in the sixth round of a shootout in addition to his first period goal to send San Diego to a 3-2 win over the Bakersfield Condors at Rabobank Arena. The Gulls (21-17-1-0, 43 pts, .551 win %) were unable to hang on to a 2-0 first period lead but were able to use their sharpshooting skills to break the deadlock against Bakersfield (17-16-7-1, 42 pts, .512 win %) following overtime and deliver two huge points as the playoff race heats up in the ultra-competitive Pacific Division. Goaltender Reto Berra made 29 saves plus four additional saves in the shootout to earn his 10th win of the season.
Corey Tropp opened the game with a snap shot from the right circle that beat Bakersfield netminder Laurent Brossoit (3-2-2) at the 3:25 mark to put the Gulls up 1-0. The goal brought Tropp to within one of tying Antoine Laganiere’s club record of 37 goals. The Gulls then doubled their lead a few minutes later on a very strange bounce. Tropp passed to a surging Kerdiles on a 2-on-1 rush who in turn fired a shot on net. The puck sailed high over the crossbar but bounced off a stanchion on the back glass before ricocheting in off of Brossoit at 10:29.
Bakersfield would get on the board and cut San Diego’s lead in half at 14:03 when Evan Polei converted on a 2-on-1 of his own. The Condors winger was able to use Jaycob Megna as a screen while slipping a backhand through Berra’s (10-6-0) legs to close the scoring for the period.
The second frame was a quiet one, save for a spirited fight between Eric Fehr and Josh Currie, Fehr’s first scrap as a member of the Gulls. The period featured strong goaltending from both netminders, particularly Berra who turned aside all 12 shots he faced.
Forced to kill off a 5-on-3 early in the third, Berra came up huge yet again. In a wild sequence in which he lost his stick, the Swiss goalie was forced to make a spectacular save with blocker which he used as a makeshift glove.
With a late power play in their favor, it appeared all the Gulls needed to do was run out the clock to seal the win. However, an ambitious Bakersfield penalty kill unit caught San Diego by surprise when Ryan Malone stole the puck and started a rush the other way before beating Berra to tie the game at 2-2 with just 1:36 remaining. San Diego could not convert on the remaining man advantage time and the game went to overtime.
The extra frame solved nothing as each team failed to convert on 4-on-3 power plays. Kalle Kossila and Giovanni Fiore each scored in the shootout with Nic Kerdiles breaking the 2-2 tie with his goal in the sixth round, beating Brossoit five-hole to clinch the 3-2 win for San Diego.
“Reto came up big in that shootout,” Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins said afterward. “We had some shooters step up and it was a desperate two points.”
The Gulls will face-off once again against the Condors in Bakersfield at Rabobank Arena (7 p.m., Mighty 1090-AM) before heading into the league-wide All-Star Break.
1. SD – N. Kerdiles
2. BAK – B. Malone
3. BAK – E. Polei