Memorial Stadium plays host to ice hockey

Mario Saldaña, Digital Content Editor

Bakersfield had an entertaining weekend when the Bakersfield Condors held its first Winter Classic, kicking it all off with an alumni/celebrity game, which included big names like Wayne Gretzky and Luc Robitaille on Jan. 6. The Condors went on and faced the Ontario Reign on Jan. 7 in an unforgettable game that even rain would not be able to stop.
The Winter Classic was held at Bakersfield College’s Memorial Stadium and kicked off its two-day event with an alumni/celebrity game that had big name hockey legends Wayne Gretzky and Luc Robitaille. Though many fans believed that they would see the “Almighty” Gretzky skate and play hockey again, both ended up just being coaches for their team.
Many alumni players from the L.A. Kings and Edmonton Oilers were on the ice playing for team Gretzky and team Robitaille like Rob Blake, Craig MacTavish and Dave Semenko, celebrities were divided between the teams as well, including the members of the band R5, David Boreanaz from the show “Bones” and Patrick O’Brien Demsey from the movie “Miracle,” in a game that had many goals and ended in a close match with team Robitaille taking the win 9-8.
Though the game that was played a day later became the highlight of the weekend not only because the Bakersfield Condors gave an outstanding outdoor hockey game for fans who came and cheered through the rain they would never forget against the Ontario Reign, but because of the heavy rain the players had to endure as well.
The night of the game was unpredictable with rain coming and going throughout the night, many fans were puzzled whether there would be a game due to the rain, but the Condor’s eyes were set on playing this game rain or dry, and to end it with a victory on a historical night for the club, finishing with a victory 3-2 with a late goal in the third period to tie the game, and a quick goal in overtime from defenseman Griffin Reinhart.
The Condors started off strong offensively making plays and opening up chances, but beating the Reign was not going to be an easy task. The Ontario Reign are currently first in the Pacific Division in the AHL with 39 points with a 17-6-5 record so far, and the Condors are at the bottom of the same division in eighth with a record of 11-12-4-1. Though the game was close throughout the period, the Condors were down by one from a goal by Brett Sutter.
Going into the second period the rain poured down as hard as it could, filling the ice rink with water and there was no end of rain throughout most of the second period. The rain would not let up throughout the period making the period harder for players, since most players are not really used to the condition. Condors goalie Laurent Brossoit found it difficult to block shots and move with the rain pouring throughout most of the second period.
“With how wet it was my movement everything went down, I got absolutely soaked and every time they got a shot there was a little flicker of water that would spring up and they capitalized on a couple, but it was so nice to be resilient and come back.”
Though the condition was rough, the Reign scored another goal from Justin Auger in just 34 seconds into the period putting the Condors down by two goals, and the rest of the period was the Reign showing their offensive strength, but Condors goalie Brossoit would keep it a two-goal game.
The Condors soon found life after the rain in the third period when Mark Fayne scored a goal two minutes into the period, now only down by one with 18 minutes to go. Ontario’s defense and goalie held off most of the Condor’s attack with Reign’s goalie Jack Campbell saving 33 shots, only to be beaten with 43 seconds left in the game by Josh Currie, making the quiet stadium filled with nervous fans cheer with joy.
The Condors came back to end the period with two goals to tie the game, giving what hockey fans like to call “free hockey” by going to overtime, and Griffin Reinhart blocked a shot and ended up on a breakaway one on one with the Reign’s goalie and hit the right side of the net and was the overtime hero ending the game in just 46 seconds into overtime.
Reinhart was happy he got to finish this game with a win and knew that it was going to be difficult especially with the condition the game was played in and he explained how it felt playing with heavy rain.
“I don’t think I’ll ever experience playing in game that wet again, I mean it’s nice that we got through it and that we battled through it and now that it’s all over with it’s a lot more of an enjoyable story,” Reinhart explained.
He also gave details on his game-winning goal and how he felt about closing out the game and winning on this cold and wet night.
“It was kind of a one-on-one battle and I was on a good position that started in the D zone and I saw the puck bouncing and took advantage of it, we’ve been in this position before and we’ve lost a lot on overtime, it feels great to be on the other end.”