It’s a wild uncertainty when considering whether the Bakersfield Condors will be any better this season than they were a year ago.
Most of the reasoning behind that is because injuries and/or poor play in Edmonton causes such a disruption to the Condors lineup as it did a year ago and resulted in Bakersfield missing the AHL playoffs by just a handful of points. One thing that is for certain, though, is that the Condors have made a significant adjustment in roster planning after their first year in the AHL’s punishing Pacific Division.
The Condors of 2016-17 are most definitely going to be bigger, heavier, and meaner than last season’s edition that on many nights got pushed around by more rugged opposition especially the rival Ontario Reign. 
“We learned a lot from playing in this division last year. It’s a big, heavy division, a lot of work played along the wall so we made that adjustment by bringing in bigger, heavier set guys. We also have players who were rookies last year and now have a year under their belt and that year of experience speaks volumes for their confidence.” – Condors head coach Gerry Fleming
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On the back end, the Condors are bolstered by veteran Mark Fraser, who is still eyeing one last shot in the NHL, but at this point in his career, knows full well that his physical presence and gamesmanship are more valuable in guiding the young prospects. In 219 games, Fraser has accumulated 302 PIMs so he obviously comfortable in playing the heavy. The Condors really missed out on having someone with a mean streak on the back end last season which led them getting outmuscled in front of the net and having smaller blueliners like Joey LaLeggia run into the endboards on a nightly basis. 
Up front, the Condors/Oilers let both Kale Kessy and Luke Gazdic depart as free agents, but have filled at least one spot with resident enforcer Joel Rechlicz. He’ll likely ride alongside Mitch Moroz on the fourth line. Rechlicz has appeared in only 57 AHL games the past three seasons yet managed to total 182 PIMs and a collection of memorable battles on www.hockeyfights.com
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Also up front, Jujhar Khaira brought an edge to his play last year and he should be the No. 1 centre. Other bigger bodies in the mix are captain Ryan Hamilton, Edmonton product Scott Allen, college recruit Patrick Russell, and improving agitator Greg Chase.
The go-big-or-go-home philosophy hasn’t appeared to cost the Condors any amount of skill. Freshman pro Joey Benik, returning prospect Kyle Platzer, and European import Jere Sallinen are amongst a group that will be counted on to supply goals for a team that was inconsistent on offence a year ago.

TRAINING CAMP DEPTH CHART – DAY 1 (Possible cuts in parenthesis)

Goaltenders
Nick Ellis
Eetu Laurikainen
Matt Zenzola
(Laurent Brossoit/Jonas Gustavsson)
Defence
Mark Fraser – Joey LaLeggia
David Musil – Ben Betker
Frankie Simonelli – Mikael Tam
Aaron Harstad – Chase Golightly
Steven Tarasuk
(Dillon Simpson, Jordan Oesterle, Griffin Reinhardt, Matt Benning)
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Forwards
Joey Benik – Jujhar Khaira – Taylor Beck
Ryan Hamilton – Kyle Platzer – Jere Sallinen
Scott Allen – Jose Currie – Patrick Russell
Mitch Moroz – Greg Chase – Joel Rechlicz
Braden Christoffer – Jordan Deschneau – Josh Brittain
Kevin Henderson – Danick Gauthier
(Anton Slepyshev, Drake Caggiula, Anton Lander, Tyler Pitlick)

From the nest


The Condors brought in seven players on PTO’s for training camp, all of whom are more than likely going to help make up the roster of ECHL Norfolk. Of note, the group includes two Californians – 6-foot-5 goaltender Matt Zenzola, who spent last season playing for new Norfolk head coach Rod Aldoff in SPHL Pensacola, and defenceman Chase Golightly, coming in from ECHL Florida where Gerry Fleming was previously head coach. Also in the hunt for work is 2008 Anaheim third-round pick Josh Brittain and 2011 Winnipeg seventh-rounder Aaron Harstad … Cancer-surviving G Ty Rimmer, the Edmonton product who split last season between Bakersfield and Norfolk, has signed with the Sterzing/Vipiteno Broncos, an Italian-based team in the new Alps Hockey League. The 16-team circuit replaces the former top tier leagues in Italy, Austria and Slovenia. 
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Going, Going, Gone


The Oilers recently sold their ECHL affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals, to local interests in Virginia, which has led to some speculation that after this season they will be looking for a new Double-A affiliate. Reasonable logic suggests, as do some AHL insiders, that the Oilers want their lower-end farmhands closer to the Condors. With ECHL Salt Lake likely becoming the AHL affiliate for Las Vegas, it stands to reason that the Oilers/Condors will seek out other teams in close proximity. In terms of closest distance and travel logistics, the Oilers could check into either buying or getting into an agreement with the Texas-based Allen Americans (San Jose Sharks) or the Tulsa Oilers (Winnipeg Jets) in Oklahoma.

THE SEASON OPENER PARTY

 
After a long summer of arguing and waiting, the NHL season is right around the corner and that means it’s time for us to throw another party. We wanted a second take on last year’s season and decided that we would celebrate the start of the second year of Connor’s reign over Oil Country. Thanks to our friends at AMA Travel, Cornerstone Insurance, the Pint, Oodle Noodle, and United Cycle we’ve got a big night planned for you complete with raffles, swag bags, and two trips (valued at $5000 each) for two to the outdoor game in Winnipeg courtesy of AMA Travel.
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Here’s what you need to know:
  • Where: The Pint Downtown
  • When: Friday, October 14th at 5pm
  • Why: Because we’ve got a hankerin’ for some partyin’ 
  • How: Tickets are available here
See you on October 14th!