Make no mistake about it, players in the American Hockey League are just one injury away from the NHL.
On Sunday, Laurent Brossoit flew with the Condors to Winnipeg, Manitoba, expecting to be the starting goaltender for today’s season opener against the Manitoba Moose.
But backup Edmonton goalie Jonas Gustavsson was injured on that night. Now, Brossoit will make a trip to Edmonton to join the pro club.
That means rookie Nick Ellis, who had an impressive camp with the Oilers and Condors, will be making his first pro start.
Eetu Laurikainen, who played 18 games for the Condors last season, has been recalled from Norfolk, Va., of the ECHL and will serve as backup.
Laurikainen and Ellis played well in preseason wins for the Condors.
Ellis, 22, was 25-7-4 last year for Providence as a junior with a 1.80 goals-against average and .936 save percentage, third best in NCAA. The Oilers signed him on April 7.
The Condors are late to the 2015-16 season party. Every other team in the league has already played at least one game.
“It’s given us more time to work on some of the things we need to work on,” Condors coach Gerry Fleming of not playing over opening weekend, adding he was fine with starting with a long road trip.
“It’s always good starting on the road to get the guys together on the road,” he said. “There’s never as much pressing or nervous energy when you start on the road. It’s a good time for the guys to bond a little bit. We don’t mind it.”
In addition, the Oilers assigned defenseman Matthew Benning to the Condors. Benning, a rookie out of Northeastern, is expected to play.
This edition of the Condors does not have the skill up front that the team had to start last season, but they have more size and are more experienced defensively.
Jordan Oesterle, Dillon Simpson, Griffin Reinhart and David Musil all had large roles with the Condors last season with Reinhart (29 games) and Oesterle (17 games) also spending time in the NHL.
“Defenseman is a tough position,” Fleming said. “It takes a little bit of maturity, a little bit of experience in your game.I think that year last year for our younger guys was a huge benefit to have them down here playing in different situations. I’m sure they’ll apply those experiences they learned last year this year and there will be more growth and maturity in their game.”
The Condors play in Winnipeg again on Thursday and open at home on Saturday against Tuscon.