By Mike Griffith
Californian Staff Writer
The Bakersfield Californian
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – Tim Konsorada doesn’t say a lot but his smile speaks volumes.
So do his stats.
Fourteen games into his first season with the Condors, the third-year forward is adjusting to his new surroundings quite nicely. He is tied for the team lead in goals (six) and points (11) and is being called on to play in a variety of key situations.
But what has impressed Condors coach Marty Raymond lately is the type of play that doesn’t show up on a stat sheet: true grit.
“He’s got some skills and can play hockey,” Raymond said. “He’s got great hands and a rocket of a shot. He can do everything well.
“What I liked over the last week and a half, he battled. I don’t ask him to go and kill people but he battled hard to get the puck back on the power play for example. He’s understanding it’s better to battle hard in that zone then go all the way and come back.”
Konsorada (6-foot-1, 215 pounds) was drafted in the sixth round by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2002. He spent 54 games with Dayton in the ECHL as a rookie (netting 48 points) and also saw action in 20 AHL games for the Syracuse Crunch. Last year, he had 38 points in 63 games with Dayton and played in eight games with Syracuse.
“I’m not a small guy (and) it’s always been my knock that I’m not gritty enough,” Konsorada said of his play. “It’s all mental. It’s just something you have to do. It’s mental — have to think competitive and intense. You keep thinking, it gets repetitive and you just do it.”
It’s the repetitive part of playing with grit that Raymond wants to see continue.
“He’s capable of doing some damage (points-wise),” Raymond said. “He has to play with more intensity every night and he’d be dominating. I think he’s turned the corner. I like the way he played in the four (East Coast) games. He and Reagan Leslie were the best players on the trip.”
Konsorada’s contract with Columbus expired at the end of last season which made his a free agent and Condors goaltender Jamie Hodson, who played on the Brandon Wheat Kings junior team with Konsorada, was instrumental in getting him to come to Bakersfield.
“He had a couple of tough years in Dayton and with Syracuse and I thought this would be a good fit for him.” said Hodson, who also helped lure rookie Mark Derlago (also a former Wheat King) to Bakersfield. “I knew Marty would like him and it’s worked out well.
“Timmy went to the finals last year and knows how to win. He was a captain for a couple of years in Brandon and knows how to be a leader.”
Konsorada, while still aspiring to make it to the AHL, said at this stage of his career he’s looking to expand his role.
“As you get older you want more responsibility,” he said. “That means doing a little bit more of everything. To do some things differently and try to get better, to lead by example. It all comes into play.”
Raymond is more than willing to add to Konsorada’s on-ice responsibility — as long as it’s warranted.
“When he first got here, he was looking, seeing what we do with our systems and he’s been smart to pick everything up,” Raymond said. “He’s out there on the power play and four-on-four and he’s doing some penalty killing. He’s been doing great. The more responsibility he gets, the better he is.”
And about that smile. Well, that has a lot to do with geography and climate.
“The hockey is pretty much the same, maybe a little more open here and a little more of a grind there,” Konsorada said. “But here it’s a lot warmer. There you get snow. I can’t complain at all.”
Which is reason enough to smile.