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Condors Update: .500 Will Have To Do

It was a two game week for the Bakersfield Condors of the AHL, who visited San Jose last Wednesday night prior to returning home for a date with Tucson on Saturday. The Condors battled two more divisional opponents this past week, splitting the decisions with the Barracuda and Roadrunners.

Let’s take a look at what went on with Edmonton’s top affiliate while the Oil were on the east coast.

The Week The Was:

The Condors opened their week on Wednesday night in San Jose when they battled the Barracuda. The Condors had struggled mightily against the Sharks’ top affiliate through their first three seasons, but opened the season series with a shootout victory.

The Condors fell behind early, as Alexander True scored just 4:21 into the contest. Evan Polei responded with his first of the season at 12:36 to even things up, but the seesaw continued in the second as Jayden Halbgewachs scored 7:51 into the middle frame for San Jose. Joe Gambardella’s first of the season came 7:28 into the third to force overtime, which solved nothing.

Tyler Benson scored his first shootout goal of the season, giving the Condors the victory as Al Montoya stopped two of three attempts against. Cooper Marody also scored in the shootout, while Montoya stopped 23 of 25 shots in the victory.

Saturday wasn’t as pretty, as the Condors fell 2-1 in regulation at home. Tucson was a wagon last season, winning the Pacific Division. They return a number of talented young players and veterans this season, and should bring Calder Cup playoff hockey to the desert again this spring.

Cameron Hebig scored his second of the season on the powerplay at 17:38 of the first period, but Hudson Fasching and Adam Helewka would both beat Montoya en route to the Roadrunner victory.

The Positives:

Good start for Hebig, who has 2-2-4 and is tied for the team lead in points through four games. Tyler Benson has opened his professional career with 1-2-3 and a shootout game winner, and I think his two-way game has been very impressive in the early goings.

Mitch Callahan has scored a pair early, which is a nice sign for the Condors and by extension the Oilers. Callahan was a good AHL farmhand in the Detroit organization, but was totally unproductive last season and served a lengthy suspension. I think he’s got potential as a fourth liner and could push with a good start. He’s had that so far.

Caleb Jones (1-1-2) has shown good speed and great ability on the powerplay early this season. He could play his way into NHL games should he keep producing on the man advantage. Marody (0-3-3, 1 Shootout goal), Russell (2-1-3) and Polei (1-0-1, 2 GP) have stuck out to me in positive ways early this season.

The Week Ahead:

Quiet week for the Condors, who will play just once. That game will be on Saturday night in San Diego when they meet the Gulls for the first time this season. Anaheim’s affiliate is coached by old pal Dallas Eakins, and is poised to be one of the best teams in the AHL this coming season.

After playing twice last weekend, I suspect we see Ethan Bear really get into the swing of things in the next week or two. With all the travel he dealt with at the end of camp, a slow start was predictable for the prospect.

Reminder that Dylan Wells was assigned to the ECHL last week, and Shane Starrett took over the backup role with the Condors. Starrett was Edmonton’s emergency backup in Europe to start the season.

Speaking of the ECHL, the Wichita Thunder opened their season with a pair of home games over the weekend. They knocked off Idaho 3-2 in the shootout on Friday night before falling 4-0 to Allen on Saturday. They’ll face Allen at home again this Friday before travelling to Texas to battle the Americans Saturday night.

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