By Mike Griffith
Californian Staff Writer
The Bakersfield Californian
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – Justin Quenneville made an immediate impact in his debut with the Bakersfield Condors in the season opening-game with a goal in a 3-1 victory over Victoria.
In his third game, Quenneville made an impact with the boards in Alaska, which left a lasting impression — a broken shoulder, subsequent surgery and a plate to hold everything in place.
After missing the next 20 games, Quenneville picked up right where he left off. Seeing only limited action last Friday night, he assisted on a goal in a 6-5 overtime win over the Fresno Flacons.
For Quenneville, who was an all-star during his rookie season in the United Hockey League a year ago, it’s as if the season has started all over.
“It’s like the start of the season for me,” Quenneville, 23, said. “I think that’s sort of the attitude the guys have in the locker room as well. We’re not disappointed in the way we started the season (11-10-4) but we’re not thrilled.
“Individually, I’d like to get my statistics up by helping the team. All in all, if we’re winning games and the coach is happy that’s all that matters to me.”
Condors coach Marty Raymond was delighted to get Quenneville (who had 17 goals as a rookie) back into the lineup as the Condors have struggled to score goals all season.
“He has speed, is a good skater, has good hands and has a little more poise with the puck,” Raymond said of Quenneville. “We didn’t have that. He’s a guy who can score goals. With him and (Dave Bonk, acquired in a trade) it gives us two units on the power play. (Quenneville) really helps our team with special units and four-on-four. He brings a lot to the table. We sorely missed him.”
While Quenneville said it was frustrating to have to sit out so many games — “it’s the first time I’ve sat out games and watched from the stands” — he used the time to become a student of the game and get into better shape.
As a graduate of St. Michaels College (Burlington, Vt.), Raymond put Quenneville’s degree in computer science to work — editing clips on a laptop.
“That was something the coaches wanted me to stay involved with,” Quenneville said. “I broke down video, especially the power play which is something I work on a lot. It kept me involved a lot with the guys and the systems.”
That, coupled with watching from the stands, gave him a different perspective of the game.
“Watching the games from the stands, it’s just a lot of little mistakes we make as players,” Quenneville said. “When you watch from the stands you see the game form an obviously different perspective. You see a lot more open ice.
“For myself, a player who likes to carry the puck, I find that I even have more time than I normally think I do. On the ice, yes, the pace is very fast and you have to think quickly.
“You watch guys like Sean Venedam and Kevin St. Jacques who have great patience with the puck. It’s not necessarily speed that gets you from point A to point B.”
As far as rehab, Quenneville said the most difficult part was having to wait two months to get clearance to play.
“With my surgery I was able to get started early,” he said. “The hardest thing about it was it took so long.”
But Quenneville turned that aspect into a positive.
“Jason Lindsey (the team’s athletic trainer) really pushed me hard and we ended up developing a good relationship,” he said. “I told him I wanted to come back stronger and faster and this was a good opportunity to do that.”