By Mike Griffith
Californian Staff Writer
The Bakersfield Californian
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – Coach Marty Raymond will be counting on some young players to make a statement Saturday as the Condors open the ECHL season against the Ontario Reign.
That’s because the Condors, who average just 24 years of age, head into new era of hockey with the least experienced team in franchise history.
“We need some young guys to step up right away and play like veterans,” Raymond said.
Bakersfield signed an affiliation agreement with the Anaheim Ducks this summer and that has resulted in an infusion of young talent — those assigned by the Ducks — as well as many players sought out by the Condors.
Only seven Condors on the opening night roster have played three or more years of pro hockey. Ten are rookies and four are entering their second season as a professional.
“There is so much more that could be done (to prepare for the season) but it’s time to drop the puck and see what we’ve got,” Raymond said.
While the training camp time for the Condors coaching staff has been short, just a week with many of the players on the opening-day roster, a good number of those players have had an extended camp. A handful were in the Ducks rookie camp and more than a dozen spent varying amounts of time in American Hockey Leagues camp.
“We know all the guys are going to come out and work hard, they’re ready to play,” Raymond said. “Every day (of practice this week) has been better.”
Up front, the Condors boast a nice blend of players with size, speed and scoring ability which should make for three solid lines.
Defensively, the Condors boast plenty of size and mobility but are missing a proven offensive defenseman as Kevin Truelson (46 or more points each of the last three seasons) quit a few days after training camp opened.
“Those type of guys aren’t easy to replace,” Raymond said. “We have two or three guys who have that potential but time well tell.”