BAKERSFIELD CONDORS GAME #3: HENDERSON SILVER KNIGHTS
After winning their first of a five game road trip, the Condors came into Henderson looking to double up. The Silver Knights were coming off a road game the night prior, but didn’t look it, taking large parts of this game to the Condors. In the end, due to a stiff penalty kill effort, sharp goaltending and Michael Kesselring, the Condors prevailed 4-3 to go to 2-0-1 on the season.
In terms of the line-up, Coach Chaulk ran 12F-6D again, but had two adjustments with Brad Malone coming back into the lineup and Samuel Dove-McFalls coming out on the forward group. On the back end, Alex Peters stepped in for Markus Niemelainen following his promotion to the Oilers.
Overall, the lines saw fairly even playing time, but again limited, due to 6 Silver Knight power plays.
The line combos and pairings were as follows:
PP1 remained the same as the first two games:
The PK was a hefty rotation of a number of forwards with Hamblin, Esposito, Malone, Bourgault getting a bit more time on ice. The defense rotated pretty evenly.
Who Got Noticed?
Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Hamblin now has four points in his last two games. He’s playing every facet of the game with incredible confidence. Tonight he played PP1, PK1, high leverage minutes and was locked up against the Silver Knights top group heavily. He was plus twenty minutes tonight, which is a strong effort for a forward. He had two assists tonight including one off a tremendous pass to Klim Kostin for his first goal with the Condors. However, for me, the trademark Hamblin shift is the one below. Again, during a high leverage situation in his own zone at the end of the period, Hamblin blocks a shot, exits the puck and delivers a great pass to create an entry that ultimately led to Michael Kesselring’s first goal. The Swiss Army Knife has no closer human comparison.
It was evident early in this game that Bourgault was really starting to play with confidence. His calling card: offensive zone creativity, really came out tonight. He was very comfortable moving with the puck inside of traffic. He protected the puck well and created a lot of looks. Before he set up Kesselring for his 2nd goal of the game, Bourgault had this shift that started with an impressive (although hard to see) attempt at scoring by knocking the puck three feet out of the air, just missing the net and then finished with a smooth toe drag.
Bourgault’s first point as a pro came off a great hustle play where he won the race to puck. Kept his feet moving after being checked and fed a great seam pass to Kesselring.
Bourgault also continues to get penalty kill time and he does so because he is aggressive on the puck and has the hands and stick to pry pucks loose.
Expect to see many more nights like this from Bourgault.
Kostin is an enigma to me. He is 6’4 and 220 pounds and his straight line skating is strong. Yet, he can take lazy penalties and go stretches without being noticed. However, when it is going he is very hard to stop. Look at this clip of his hands in tight. Remember how big this man is when you watch.
Now watch this goal off a beautiful set up by James Hamblin. Kostin(#24) is absolutely flying to get to the net.
More please Klim.
Had his best game of his AHL career. Was his usual very engaged self. Tonight what I liked was his confidence with the puck. He hung on to the puck more and kept his feet moving. Showed excellent vision to evade defenders and to find his teammates in good spots. Below is one example of about six great shifts that Tullio had on this night.
I wrote at the prospect camp that I didn’t understand how some people had Vincent Desharnais slotted ahead of Michael Kesselring. Kesselring has so many more facets to his game that make him a NHL prospect. Tonight they came together for his first two goal game of his professional career. Kesselring now has three in three games and continues to leave his impression all over the offensive game. However, for me, the part of his game that continues to develop is his defensive work both in transition and in his zone. Here is one clip of what I am speaking of. If Kesselring continues to develop this side of his game, he will be a NHL call up.
Bakersfield is home and cooled until a back to back on Saturday and Sunday against the Tucson RoadRunners.