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AHL Wrap Up: Barracuda Edge Condors

The Condors got a 41-save effort from Olivier Rodrigue, but it was not enough to earn two points over San Jose

Edmonton Oilers 2022-2023 Headshots Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images


The Bakersfield Condors came off American turkey holidays to play the San Jose Barracuda in the annual Teddy Bear toss game. Last time out, the Condors broke a three game losing streak with a 3-2 win over the Henderson Silver Knights with great performances by several Oiler prospects. Tonight appeared to be a “scheduled win” with the San Jose Barracuda playing their third game in four days and second of a back to back coming in from Henderson this morning. It was not what it appeared to be. The Barracuda and their six rookies absolutely dominated the Condors for two periods. The domination was helped by another undisciplined effort on the part of the Condors who gave up seven power plays in the first two periods. Still, going into the third, the Condors were tied 1-1, all due to Olivier Rodrigue and his 35 saves. In the end, justice was served however. The Condors, on a terrible defensive play with two minutes remaining, gave up the winning goal to waste a brilliant effort by Rodrigue, losing 2-1. .

In terms of the line-up, Coach Chaulk ran 12F-6D with some substantial adjustments to the lineup. Both James Hamblin and Tyler Benson, each listed on the original roster, did not play and were replaced by Carter Savoie and Philip Engaras. There was no mention of the reason for the late scratch. On defense, Markus Niemelainen came into the lineup replacing the recently called up, Philip Broberg. Alex Peters was also scratched for Darien Kielb. Desharnais and Kaldis both remain injured..










PP1 was:




The second PP was:




PK was all hands on deck through two periods. It was notable that Bourgault did not play much PK except at the end of a couple of power plays. Niemelainen and Kesslering each played a bunch of minutes helping the Condors go six for seven on the kill.

Who Got Noticed?

Xavier Bourgault

It was very close between him and Tullio as to who was the best prospect forward tonight. Bourgault was very active again, but was not rewarded for his efforts. He finished the night with four shots on net and clean sheet otherwise.

He was relied upon heavily to enter the zone on the powerplay and was excellent in doing so.

He also continues to be a very effective forechecker constantly creating opportunities off turnovers.

He also displayed a great deal of dynamic play in the offensive zone as is becoming the norm.

In the end a very strong effort went for not on the scoresheet, but Bourgault was far from quiet in the game itself.

Tyler Tullio

I said in a prior column that if Ty Tullio makes the Oilers, his jersey will be a very popular buy. I think that might happen in Bakersfield as well. Similar to Bourgault, he was held off the scoresheet. He did register two shots on net and while his line was on the game winning goal against, it wasn’t an issue on him. Tullio played a high motor, physical and creative game tonight. Before we get to some of the fun plays, I want to take a moment to remark on his skating. It has improved a great deal since his junior days. His stride remains a little short, but the heel kick is gone for the most part. He gathers very well with his skates returning quickly to position. The upper body is compact now and although there is some sway in it, there has been improvement. Clips like this where he is beating players to spots are becoming routine. This is a great development.

In terms of his game, he is really becoming confident with the puck. He tried a cheeky little play, and although he probably had a pass option, it was a nice effort.

Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t illustrate Tullio’s hockey sense. Watch this clip where he gives a little push off to the defender and frees himself for an excellent chance.

Raphael Lavoie

Started and finished this game on the fourth line with Savoie and Engaras. Not a comforting development for the big man given how important a year it is for him. He finished the night with four shots on net and was generally forceful on and off the puck through the game. I have one clip that again shows what he can do almost at will. He’s got great size to win board battles. He also has tremendous hands. When you combine them, it makes for high quality plays such as this one.

Noah Philp

Played a quality game on both special teams and with his linemates Bourgault and Bailey. Again, the scoring does need to come for a player who is more advanced in age. That will be very important. However, he has one NHL skill right now and that is winning pucks off defenders or when there is a 50/50 battle. Here is just one example of four times he won a possession battle that led to offensive zone time.

Michael Kesselring

A tougher night to evaluate Kesselring given the penalty issues in the first two periods. He was on for the one power play goal scored against the Condors, but that came on a 3x5 penalty kill. When the team was at evens, Kesselring displayed his excellent straight line skating skills along with some very improved lateral mobility. He also had some creative chances on net.

He finished the night with a clean sheet and two shots on net and another fight! He’s doing everything he can to get noticed.

For those wondering about Markus Niemelainen tonight, he was good for 58 minutes. His typical strong defensive game was there including a number of physical plays. However, what he needs to work on is his puck skills and there were a couple of moments tonight where he did that well. Here is one play I put on Twitter where he wins the puck battle, does a nice job of reading the forecheck, buys time by taking as much space as he can and then hits a great mid lane pass. This is what he needs to do.

Now about that last two minutes. Oof. He and his partner, Phil Kemp, got crossed up and left a Barracuda player wide open in front of the net with no one around to score the winning goal. While Kemp is a part of the problem, Niemelainen knew he was the last man back and still vacated the net front. Cannot happen. Probably won’t again. Overall, a good return to the AHL, which isn’t necessarily easy to do after all that time in the NHL.

Bakersfield now travels to Canada for a back to back starting Tuesday in Abbotsford with the little Canuckleheads. See you then.