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Condors take Pacific Division crown

Photo: Zak Krill

Tyler Benson scored with 11:09 left in regulation, snapping a 2-2 tie and sending the Bakersfield Condors to a 3-2 victory on Saturday in the decisive Game 3 of the Pacific Division finals.

Benson took a pass from Cooper Marody and beat Logan Thompson top-shelf from the bottom of the right-wing circle for the game-winning tally to cap a highly competitive divisional playoff. All four of the Condors’ postseason wins came by a one-goal margin.

Bakersfield has won the John D. Chick Trophy as the champions of the Pacific Division for 2020-21; the Chick Trophy has been presented to an AHL division champion annually since 1961-62.

After a scoreless first period in which Henderson held a 16-7 advantage in shots on goal, the Silver Knights broke through 3:37 into the second as Dylan Sikura scored off a feed from Cody Glass. It was the fifth point in the last two games for Sikura.

Bakersfield pulled even at 12:31 during a delayed penalty, as Jakob Stukel deflected Michael Kesselring‘s shot from the point and eluded Thompson for his first goal of the postseason.

Just 2:38 later, rookie Philip Kemp scored his first career AHL goal to give the Condors a 2-1 lead.

Henderson responded at 5:40 of the third period as Kaedan Korczak‘s shot from the left point got past Stuart Skinner, tying things back up at 2-2. It was the first pro goal for Korczak, a second-round draft choice by Vegas in 2019.

The tie stood for just over three minutes before Benson netted the winner.

Skinner (4-2) made 33 saves on the night, while Thompson (3-2) turned aside 29 of 32 shots.

Attendance at T-Mobile Arena was 7,420.

The Condors’ win brings the 2020-21 AHL season to a close. Opening night for the 2021-22 campaign is set for October 15.

Pacific Division Finals (best-of-3)
(1) Henderson Silver Knights vs. (2) Bakersfield Condors
Game 1 – Wed., May 26 – Bakersfield 3, Henderson 2 (OT)
Game 2 – Thu., May 27 – Henderson 6, Bakersfield 3
Game 3 – Sat., May 29 – Bakersfield 3, Henderson 2
— All games at T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, NV