The month of January, with 13 games in three states and six different cities may appear to be a marathon, but heading into Friday night’s home game against Stockton, Condors coach Jay Woodcroft said it’s time for the stretch run.
“It’s a sprint to the All Star break,” he said of Bakersfield’s six games over the next nine days. “We have six games left to the All Star break in a tight, compressed time frame.
“Our focus is on each day, each practice, each period, each shift, each game. And we’re taking it one day at a time. For us, right now, we’re concerned with our game. We’re concerned with finding ways to garner points and continuing to add layers and grow our game going forward."
And to try to solidify a playoff position in a tight Pacific Division.
The Condors are just 3-5-2 over their last 10 games, but have won two straight and are a point ahead of Colorado for the final playoff berth.
“We’ve found it difficult to get wins this month (but) it wasn’t for a lack of effort or a lack of try,” Woodcroft said. “We’ve had a lot of that in our game but we’ve had some tough lessons taught to us about closing games out and finding ways to get wins.
“These last two games (a 2-0 win in Colorado on Saturday and a 4-2 over Stockton at home on Wednesday), what stood out for our coaching staff is we were able to check ourselves to a win. Full credit to our players. Everybody contributed.”
On Wednesday, it was the line of Tyler Benson-Cooper Marody-Josh Currie with the biggest contribution. Currie had three goals and Benson and Marody each had three assists.
“They were very good for us, just not on the power play but five-on-five as well,” Woodcroft said. “They generated a lot of chances deep in the other teams’ end. They have a little bit of a chemistry. I really think Tyler Benson’s game has gotten to a new level. He’s skating extremely well, he finds the open man. Cooper Marody, over the last three or four games, has looked dangerous every time he’s been on the ice.
“And for Josh Currie to be the finisher on that line, I think all three of them complement each other and Josh had a great game with three goals.”
But Woodcroft noted that the return of Joe Gambardella from the NHL and Patrick Russell from injury, bolstered the lineup.
“Joe is a catalyst for our team, the conscious work ethic for our group,” he said. “To add a layer of his ability into our lineup has been huge. We also missed Patrick Russell over the last two-and-a-half games. To have him back in the lineup gave us some balance up front.”