By Mike Griffith
Californian Staff Writer
The Bakersfield Californian
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – It didn’t take long for Alexandre Bolduc to remind Bakersfield Condors fans why they haven’t seen much of him this season.
Bolduc, who has spent most of this season with the Manitoba Moose in the American Hockey League, handed out three assists to help Bakersfield beat Toledo 4-3 on Wednesday night in his first game with the Condors since a three-assist output on Dec. 2.
In seven games with the Condors, Bolduc has produced 11 points.
Like all young players looking to get to the highest level possible, Bolduc, 21, hopes his stay in Bakersfield is short.
It’s not that Bolduc doesn’t like Bakersfield. In fact, he’s extremely grateful to coach Marty Raymond for giving a raw rookie a chance to showcase his talents last season. It’s just that to add his name to the ever-growing list of ECHL players who have reached the National Hockey League, Bolduc first has to prove himself at the AHL level.
It appeared that Bolduc was on the verge of doing that as his gritty, hard-hitting style of hockey had earned him a berth on Manitoba’s first line. But in a couple blinks of the eye Bolduc was suddenly in the stands, watching the action instead of on the ice in the action.
The Moose traded for a center, other players got healthy, and their parent club, the Vancouver Canucks, sent a couple of players down. Bolduc was the odd-man out as he was scratched in four of Manitoba’s last five games.
“The (Manitoba) coaches told me to go down, play some games and look at it as a conditioning stint,” Bolduc said. “It’s good to be here, too. It’s a lot of fun.”
“It’s not that he’s played bad (in Manitoba),” Condors coach Marty Raymond said. “He was able to work his way to the first line which is very commendable for the young man. But they get a couple more guys, suddenly everyone’s healthy and he’s consigned to the stands. They see a future with him and want him to play instead of sitting in the stands not doing anything.”
Thus the assignment to Bakersfield where Raymond is more than happy to give Bolduc all the ice time he can handle.
“He likes it here, he does well here, he gets in shape here so he might as well be here,” Raymond said.
The Moose have an affiliation with the Victoria Salmon Kings in the ECHL this season but because they got Bolduc through the Condors, the Moose are keeping that loose relationship intact by sending Bolduc to Bakersfield.
“It’s never fun to get sent down but at least I’m coming here, which is a little relief,” Bolduc said. “I like the fans, the players and coaches here. (The Moose) know I’m going to come down here and won’t loose my good habits and that I’ll keep working hard.”
From veteran Kevin St. Jacques‘ perspective, Bolduc has all the tools to be a regular in the American Hockey League.
“From a selfish standpoint, I’d like him to be here, but for him I hope he sticks in the A,” St. Jacques said. “His best attribute is that he’s fast. He’s got great acceleration, a great change of speed and that creates opportunities.”
Raymond is happy to have his 6-foot-2, 205-pound center for as long as the Moose will have him here.
“He’s a great center at our level.” Raymond said. “He’s a perfect all-around gritty guy for the team we have. He fits well into our scheme. He creates with his speed and we’re a better team with him.”
From Bolduc’s perspective, his stint in Bakersfield is an opportunity to help a team win, learn more about the game and prove he belongs at the next level.
“I’ve learned so much here and I keep learning here,” he said. “Obviously I want to play in the American League but it’s not that much fun sitting. I just want to do what I can to help (the Condors), work hard and go back up and play. I have no complaints.”