Condors head coach Matt O’Dette has been saying it since training camp opened last Friday with just two dozen players: more players will be rolling into town.
“It’s a zoo out there and guys are well aware of the hockey landscape ,” O’Dette said. “We made no secret on the landscape of the game right now and the quality of players that are out there and are going to become available.”
That landscape — the NHL lockout (here’s an excellent article explaining what’s happening) —
has brought forward (6-foot-3, 235 pounds) into Bakersfield. Cohen arrived Tuesday evening.
Cohen, who helped lead Boston University to a dramatic comeback against Miami (Ohio) and the NCAA championship in 2009, played the last two seasons with the Lake Erie (Ohio) Monsters in the American Hockey League.
“He’s part of the fall out,” O’Dette said Wednesday morning before Cohen took to the ice for his first practice. “This guy would normally probably be back in the AHL.”
Instead, he’s in Bakersfield, looking for an opportunity.
And a huge assist goes out to John Olver, who lives in Boise, Ida. but serves as Assistant to the Head Coach (he helps out with recruiting and scouting). Olver’s son, Mark, split time between Lake Erie and the Colorado Avalanche the past two seasons and roomed with Cohen in the AHL.
Olver arrived in Bakersfield Tuesday afternoon and will be helping to evaluate training camp players.
“We kind of tag teamed him,” O’Dette said of landing Cohen. “His agent kind of reached out a little while back and we got connected. He just happened to play with JO’s son in Lake Erie which obviously helped. We had some really good information on him.”
Cohen adds some much-needed size up front to a group so smaller, speedy skaters.
“He’s a hard-working guy who is obviously a load to move,” O’Dette said. “He’s real strong on the puck and will take the puck to the net and carry three guys with him. We need those type of guys to complement out (smaller) shifty players.”
Cohen was relegated to a fourth-line role in tthe AHL and "is looking for an opportunity to be more of a go-to guy and I think he'll get that opportunity here," O'Dette said.
The Condors play host to Stockton on Friday night in the first of back-to-back preseason games (the other is Saturday night in Stockton) against the Thunder.