BAKERSFIELD, C.A – The Henderson Silver Knights will face off against the Bakersfield Condors in a single-game contest at Mechanics Bank Arena. Puck drop is set for 6:30 p.m.
The Silver Knights will try and improve their record to 5-0-0 with another road win after sweeping the Barracuda on their home opening weekend. The home opener saw goals from Brendan Brisson, Mason Morelli, Jakub Brabenec, Dysin Mayo, and Sheldon Rempal. Brabenec’s goal, a between-the-legs shot that garnered plenty of attention from national media outlets, was his first career AHL goal.
The second contest of the weekend saw Morelli and Mayo each tally another, with Gage Quinney and Grigori Denisenko also finding the back of the net. Denisenko’s overtime winner also earned Quinney his third point of the evening and his seventh of the season, tied with Rempal to lead the Knights in points.
Goaltender Jesper Vikman earned his first career AHL victory in Saturday’s contest against the Barracuda.
OH WHAT A KNIGHT
Brabenec’s first career goal is already a strong, if early, contender for goal of the year, but it certainly wasn’t planned that way.
“When [Mason Morelli] passed to me, I just said that I’m going to try it, and it worked. I’m happy for my first goal,” he said after Friday’s game.
But although Brabenec that fellow Czech national Tomáš Hertl served as an inspiration for that particular style of shot, he’s wholeheartedly leaning into the rivalry that Vegas teams and their affiliates have built with San Jose.
“It was kind of funny because he plays for San Jose,” he added. “So that was kind of fun, yeah.”
The Silver Knights’ comeback win on Saturday could be called nothing less than a full-team effort. The team went down 3-1 to the Barracuda in the second period, but the combined goals of Quinney and Mayo – just 11 seconds apart – sent the match to overtime. Denisenko then sealed a Henderson victory.
For Quinney, that come-from-behind win was a fundamental whole-team victory.
“I just think it’s the energy,” he said after the game. “I think it started off with [Mason] Geertsen getting a block in the d-zone. Kind of got the bench up, and then we just rolled them over the last ten minutes, it felt like. The beginning of the game was ugly…but when we started playing our game in the third period, chances started to come.”
Head Coach Ryan Craig echoed Quinney’s sentiment.
“I guess when we get one, we look to get two. I like our mentality on that, that we’re not letting teams off the hook. And then two leads to three,” he said.
“It was a low-event game, one that we had to push through, but we continued to push. And then when [Gage Quinney’s] line goes out there, they make two good plays and score the second goal. Then they win a faceoff for [Dysin Mayo’s] third goal. I’m proud of our guys, we found a way to push through and get a win.”
BETWEEN THE PIPES
Vikman made 20 saves in his second AHL start, earning up his first career win – and the praise of his team.
“He was unbelievable,” said Quinney. “We weren’t very good the first 55 minutes, I guess you could say, so he definitely held it down for us. I’m really happy he got his first win, and I’m excited to see what he can do.”
For Vikman’s part, though, he was equally confident in his teammates’ abilities to support him on the way to that win, on and off the ice.
“I think it was a tough game, both teams were maybe a little bit sloppy,” he said. “But I think we didn’t give them too many opportunities. We were a little bit unlucky with some of the bounces we had against us, defensively.”
“I feel like we have a super tight group. Everyone’s super welcoming and as a young guy, my first year here, it feels like I’m part of the group right away. We’re working together and for each other. Everyone’s comfortable and everyone’s playing for each other.”
BEHIND ENEMY LINES
- The Bakersfield Condors have played two games in the 2023-24 season and are 1-1-0 to start the year.
- Raphael Lavoie (0G, 2A) and Ben Gleason (0G, 2A) are tied to lead the team with two points each. Gleason joined the Condors this offseason after scoring 33 points (9G, 24A) in 68 games with the Texas Stars last year. Lavoie returns to the Condors for his fourth year with the organization, finishing the 2022-23 season with 45 points (25G, 20A) in 61 games.
- Goaltender Calvin Pickard has started both games for the Condors. He is averaging 2.54 goals against and holds a .929 save percentage. He played 38 games for the Condors in 2022-23, finishing with a 2.70 GAA and a 0.912 save percentage.