When the Bakersfield Condors took the ice for practice on Friday morning at Rabobank Arena, there were just six players wearing blue practice jerseys.
Two games into the AHL season, the Condors have no spares on the defensive end.
Veterans Mark Fayne and Keegan Lowe, the team’s most experienced blueliners. both suffered lower body injuries during the Condors' 5-4 win over San Antonio on Thursday night.
“Keegan’s going to be out a minimum of two to three weeks and Fayner, right now we’re projecting he’ll be out a couple of weeks,” Condors coach Gerry Fleming said. “We have six D, so we’re OK for (Saturday’s home game against Tucson) as far as numbers go.”
But those numbers consist of four rookies. Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear and Ryan Mantha have played in both of Bakersfield’s games this season. Ziyat Paigin, who played five games for the Condors late last season, will join the mix on Saturday. That leaves fourth-year pro Dillon Simpson and third-year pro Ben Betker (who has yet to play this season) as Bakersfield’s most experienced D-men.
“I know everybody puts an emphasis on age and experience and normally it does take some time to get going,” Fleming said of defensive players. “But (Jones, Bear and Mantha) have hit the ground running and we’ve been pleased with their progress so far.”
The Condors had five extra players on Thursday and now that number is down to three spare forwards.
“My experience has led me to believe that there’s always injuries early in the season,” Fleming said. “Always. That’s why we keep a lot of guys (rather than assigning them to the ECHL).”