BAKERSFIELD CONDORS GAME #1: ABBOTSFORD CANUCKS
The Bakersfield Condors opened their season on Saturday against the Abbotsford Canucks in what was a physical, grinding game. Ultimately, the Canucks prevailed in overtime 3-2 after trailing the game 2-0 in the first period.
This is our first game summary from Bakersfield and we will do these each game with a heavy focus on prospects and their development. As noted before, if a prospect’s name doesn’t get mentioned, he didn’t do much in a positive or negative manner during the game.
In terms of the line-up, Coach Chaulk ran 12F-6D and was fairly equitable with the ice time until the late stages of the third period as well as overtime. There were players who saw less ice such as Ty Tulio, but that was a direct result of the 11 power plays called in this game.
The line combos and pairings were as follows:
A quick note that PP1 was:
The PK was a nice rotation of many players with Hamblin, Esposito, Engarass and Philp seeing heavier time at forward and Kaldis, Kemp, Niemelainen and Demers on defense.
Who Got Noticed?
James Hamblin was certainly more influential on the game overall as we will discuss below, but Kambeitz ended up with a goal and an assist. His line was a plus 5 in shot share and was effective all evening. Kambeitz was a free agent signing out of the WHL who never scored much, but is a big body and is very hard on players. He played PP1 tonight and was used on the PK as well. If he continues to develop a finishing touch to his game, it would be a very positive development.
Hamblin was simply all over the ice tonight. His line was a plus 6 in shot share and he himself had 3 HDSC and set up Kostin for another. He played PP1 and PK1 and then played essentially all of the OT period. He ended up -2 on the evening, but if he plays every game like this one, he will be on the plus side of the score sheet all season. Another noticeable piece is his faceoff work which continues to get stronger.
Worked his way into his first professional game, but was clearly comfortable by the second period with the pace and strength of the competition. His forechecking instincts along with his hands are very impressive. He’s not just an offensive talent. He was plus 4 on the shot metrics tonight and was very noticeable in a PP2 role as seen below. The most complimentary thing that can be said about Bourgault’s game was the coach trusted him in the last minute of the third period in a 4on4 situation. His play tonight was extremely encouraging.
Played LW tonight. So in his time in Bakersfield, both this year and last, he has played RW and LW, but not C. I can understand the coach’s thinking here, given that when Lavoie returns, it will be crowded on the right side, but a peek at C is warranted. Nevertheless, he played a strong two-way game tonight with Bourgault and McKegg. He, like Bourgault, is a very smart forechecker and his skating has improved. He was a little quiet offensively. With Bourgault that is an opportunity for growth.
Played C tonight with two other AHL rookies in Tullio and Dove-McFalls. Played a healthy amount of PK and really excels as a checking center. His skating remains a challenge given his posture and that will need to improve. He did have some flashes of offense tonight, but nothing converted. As an older prospect, he will need to score sooner rather than later to get some attention.
Was not expecting much given his late arrival to Bakersfield. He was slotted on the top line and was carried a fair bit by his linemates. He is a big body with nice hands and was promptly put net front on PP1. Had one very nice scoring chance, but otherwise a quiet night. Except for him stepping up to defend a teammate and being assessed a fighting major (it really wasn’t a fight).
He was the best Condors defenseman by a decent amount. Scored a beautiful goal and created some additional offense with excellent rushes with the puck. His defending was very physical which is an excellent sign. No evidence of the footwork issues that can sometimes catch him when trying to match speed. Very encouraging start.
Probably the second best Condor’s D tonight. Very active offensively with 4 shots on net. His big shot was very noticeable on the second powerplay unit. He also is a very sublime passer of the puck at this level. His defending and physicality is what needs work. Still a few instances where he got on the wrong side of a player and couldn’t out battle him, but overall a good defensive performance from him.
Nothing of note to report. His usual grumpy play all over the ice. He was much more conservative in his reads tonight, which was ok, but I think being paired with Demers, he has an opportunity to think offensively more often. Did make 4 splendid exit passes to forwards that led to good entries. This needs to be his focus.
Condors start the season with a 3-2 OT loss. On to Ontario tomorrow night to face a very skilled Reign team..