By Mike Griffith
Californian Staff Writer
The Bakersfield Californian
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – Two-thirds of the way through last season, Tyler Scott had pretty much made up his mind: he was done with hockey.
Scott, from Rockville, Md., had started his third year of professional hockey with Dayton, where he had spent the previous season. Fourteen games into the season, a struggling Dayton team traded Scott to Pensacola, Fla., another team that was struggling.
Then the Condors came calling. Scott was traded to Bakersfield Feb. 9 and the move turned out to be a cure for his hockey blues.
“To tell the truth, before I got traded here last year, it was one of those things I knew it was going to be my last year,” said the Scott, a defenseman. “I didn’t want to play hockey any more.”
It only took a few games in Bakersfield to reignite Scott’s passion for the game.
“The reason for that is that the fans here are unbelievable and it’s a great place to play hockey,” Scott said. “Every time you come to this building you get chills through your spine when you step on the ice.
“It pushed me into another year. It kept me going. I was fortunate coming here. I believe if I didn’t come here at the end of the year I wouldn’t be playing hockey right now. I’d be at home.”
Armed with a degree in kinesiology from the University of New Hampshire, Scott had his resume prepared by the time he rolled into Bakersfield.
Scott attended a private boarding school during his high school years, and said he wants to teach and coach in that environment.
“It gives me the opportunity to still be involved in hockey and the teaching aspect as well in the classroom,” he said.
That resume stayed tucked away when Scott returned home last summer.
“I was going to start handing it out but I procrastinated,” Scott said. “I found myself working out to stay in shape for hockey rather than looking for a new job. I knew I wanted to play hockey, I wasn’t ready to give it up yet.”
Early last September, the Condors announced Scott had been signed for this season.
“This place sells itself,” Scott said of how easy it was to make the decision to come back. “From the moment you step into the locker room, you get one of those feelings. It’s a good place to be. Everyone is happy to be here.”
Condors coach Marty Raymond said Scott has had a big influence on the team.
“He was one of our top five guys we wanted back,” Raymond said. “He’s a young guy with a lot of potential. He’s level headed, can take criticism, is easy going and doesn’t get adversely affected if things are not going his way. He’s pretty good about knowing when he’s had a bad game and rebounding from it.”
Heading into the final two weeks of the season, Scott is enjoying his best pro season. He is third on the team in defensive scoring with 30 points and has the second-best plus/minus rating at plus 17.
“The guys are making it easy on me,” Scott said. “Playing on a line with Kevin Truelson and Sean Venedam, Andrew Ianiero and Alexandre Bolduc … half the time you don’t know the puck is going on your stick and there it is. I think it has to do with the majority of guys playing around me.”
The Condors are one of a handful of unaffiliated teams in the ECHL but Scott says that has proved to be an advantage this season.
“It’s weird,” he said. “At the beginning of the season we were underdogs and now we’re second in points (in the league). I think there’s a chemistry you build when guys aren’t (going up and down from an American Hockey League team). Everyone’s here and we know how everyone plays. We’re a tight-knit group and there’s a lot of camaraderie.
“If you look around the dressing room, points are spread all around. Guys are pushing each other and helping each other out. Everyone one has their role and every one plays to it.”
And about that resume?
“Once I give up hockey, it’s pretty much done,” Scott said. “I’m like a little kid again coming into the locker room. Every day is a good day coming to the rink here. I have no complaints. I love it here.”