The full 2016-17 schedule for the Bakersfield Condors was released on Monday, but the biggest news when it comes to the calendar will officially be unveiled on Tuesday.
It’s been the worst-secret in town for quite some that the Condors would host an outdoor game during the upcoming season. All the details will come tomorrow, but the important basics are pretty much a given. The Condors will host the Ontario Reign – top affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings – on Saturday, January 7th at Bakersfield Memorial Stadium, home of the Bakersfield College Renegades football and soccer teams. According to the college’s website, the stadium can seat 20,000 spectators and is the largest multi-use outdoor facility between Los Angeles and San Jose.
The Condors were involved in one of the AHL’s outdoor games last season when they took on the Stockton Heat at Raley Field in Sacramento. The game ended up having to be moved by a day because of heavy rain which also forced it to lose out on a live airing on the NHL Network in the U.S. It was a bit odd to have two heated rivals play on neutral grounds, but the game was essentially a test-run to gauge hockey interest in the California capital. Sacramento has been linked to at least a couple potential teams – a possible re-location for the San Jose Barracuda or a long shot as the farm club for expansion Las Vegas team. If and when Sacramento does beep louder on the AHL radar, it’s more likely to be San Jose or even re-locating Vancouver’s farm team from upstate New York as many AHL insiders expect Salt Lake City to be green-lit by Vegas and the Grizzlies to once again move up from the ECHL to the AHL.
The Condors will open the 2016-17 season on the road with a two-gamer in Manitoba before having their home opener on Saturday, October 22nd against the Tucson Roadrunners, the new Triple-A affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes.
Once again, the Condors schedule is heavily influenced by its divisional rivals especially the in-state California enemies from Ontario, San Jose, Stockton, and San Diego. But the number of games the fans love the most have actually gone down a bit. Bakersfield will host Ontario only five teams and San Diego four times, while playing Stockton and San Jose six times each. The Condors have four home games against Tucson, three games against Texas, and two against San Antonio. All five California teams (and Tucson) will play the reduced 66-game schedule as opposed the other teams’ 76-game campaign.
As for the games against non-Conference foes, there’s bound to be a little disappointment. Two home and two road games against the Charlotte Checkers doesn’t move the needle much at all other than seeing how far along Keegan Lowe has come. And nothing against the Manitoba Moose, but the Condors did that dance last year. If the Condors had to have a set against a far-east team, it would have been more intriguing to square-off against say the Toronto Marlies or Providence Bruins. For a midwest rivalry, it might have been nice to forego the Moose in exchange for the Rockford Icehogs (Chicago) or the reigning-champion Cleveland Monsters (Columbus).
The schedule-makers also didn’t do the Condors any favours with nine home games in November when virtually all of California is still well into football mode – be it Friday high school, Saturday college or Sunday NFL games. Bakersfield has just three home games in January. The saving grace, in November, is the annual kids school day-game on Wednesday the 16th against Manitoba, and the epic Teddy Bear Toss festivities on Saturday the 26th versus San Diego (think any Oiler fans might aim for guy in the suit on the Gulls bench?).
The Condors, who will play in 19 weekend doubleheaders, wrap their regular season on Saturday, April 15th.
From the Nest
Alexis Loiseau has joined the Wichita Thunder after splitting last season between Bakersfield and Norfolk, while former Condors ECHL fan favourite Chase Schaber signed with the Fife Flyers in England.