The last time the Wranglers played Bakersfield, a live condor got loose on the ice — twice — during the national anthem in a spectacle that garnered international attention and more than a million views on YouTube in a video entitled “Condor goes wild.”
The Andean condor named Queen Victoria wasn’t in attendance for Tuesday’s rematch at Orleans Arena, but the Condors took a page out of her book in escaping with a 4-2 victory over the Wranglers despite getting outshot 49-31.
Prior to the start of the Feb. 8 game won 4-1 by Las Vegas (27-21-5, 59 points) at Rabobank Arena, the condor broke free and attempted to walk across the ice, slipping and sliding along the way, before her handler picked her up.
The condor escaped again when her handler slipped and crashed on the ice. Bakersfield forward Daniel Koger unsuccessfully tried to corral the giant bird, which has a wingspan of 10½ feet.
“I tried to the get the condor to the guy who brought it on the ice, but I guess the condor didn’t like me behind him,” he said. “It was pretty funny. The bench was really scared. Hockey players 6-(foot)-3, 6-5, and everybody was scared of the (expletive) condor.”
The bird jumped on the Condors’ bench — where it might’ve been searching for family members — and flew over right wing Scott Freeman, who quickly jumped over the boards.
“It got a piece of a couple of us on the bench,” Freeman said. “It flew right over us and was heading straight for the head coach.”
Watching the flight of the condor from afar, Wranglers coach Ryan Mougenel was concerned for Bakersfield coach Matt O’Dette, his close friend.
“I feared for Matt O’Dette’s life because he’s one of my closest buddies and I didn’t want to see him get mauled to death by a giant condor,” he said. “I’ve seen Matt O’Dette fight some of the toughest people ever, and that’s the most scared I’ve ever seen him, and he’s the toughest guy I know.”
After a brief encounter with O’Dette, who emerged unscathed, the bird exited through a tunnel to the locker room.
“It flew at my face. I had to duck out of the way,” O’Dette said. “It was my on my back for a split second, then it walked down the bench and it walked down the hallway. It was going to hit the showers.”
In net at the other end of the ice, Condors goalie Brian Stewart could only laugh as the bizarre event unfolded.
“I turn around the see the guy fall over and keep watching as the condor jumps into the bench,” he said. “I still laugh about it. It’s even funnier when you watch it on YouTube with the commentating.”
At 6 feet 4 inches tall, Stewart also has an impressive wingspan, which he used Tuesday to help him stop 47 of 49 shots.
Francis Verreault had two goals and an assist, Evan Trupp had a goal and assist, and Jacob Lagace added three assists for ECHL-worst Bakersfield (18-34-5, 41), which blew a 2-0 lead before snapping a 2-all tie with two third-period goals.
Scott Pitt and Eric Lampe scored for the Wranglers, who have lost two straight despite outshooting their past two opponents, 91-52.
“Our forwards have been awesome,” Mougenel said. “Our defense needs to be way better.”
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0354.