String a few wins together and it’s a nice run.
Keep it going and all of a sudden The Streak becomes its own entity.
That’s what’s happened with the Bakersfield Condors, who beat Colorado 2-0 in Colorado on Jan. 12 and haven’t lost a game since.
The streak has now reached 10, the longest this season in the American Hockey League and second longest in the 21-year history of the team.
A win tonight at home against the San Jose Barracuda would make it 11 straight and tie the team record. The Condors won 11 straight in 1999 as a member of the West Coast Hockey League and again in 2011 as a member of the ECHL.
“It’s exciting times around the team,” Condors captain Keegan Lowe said. “Everybody is happy, having fun. You just have that aura about you where you’re confident in your game and we’re confident in each other as a team that we’re finding ways to win games.”
The difference between winning and losing is often slim and prior to the winning streak the Condors were winless in five straight with four of the losses by a single goal.
Lowe said the team has learned how to turn potential losses into victories.
“We talk about winning being a skill,” Lowe said. “It’s a skill to find ways to win games. After Christmas we were playing good games until a few minutes left. It wasn’t big mistakes or anything, teams were coming back on us and we were almost like finding ways to give them back the game.
“Those are bumps and valleys you go through. There’s always going to be times like that and I think we did a good job learning from them. And now we’re that team coming back in the third period, or holding onto that one goal lead for the entire third period.”
Certainly goaltending has played a huge role in the streak and Shane Starrett has been in net for eight of those, allowing more than two goals in just one game.
Offensively, the Condors have outscored opponents 46-21 during the streak and have come at opponents in waves. If one player goes cold, another has turned hot. Twenty-three different skaters have played over the past 10 games with 20 of them registering at least a point.
“We’re clicking together, we’ve had some really good games,” said Joe Gambardella, who leads the team in goals with 21 and is riding a nine-game point streak (9 goals, five assists). "It’s fun to be at the rink every day. Everyone wants to get better, not only individually but for the team. It’s been a blessing to be around.”
From coach Jay Woodcroft’s perspective it’s a huge plus to have so much depth.
“A true mark of a good team is when you’re getting contributions up and down the lineup,” he said. “We’ve said this before, everybody is valued on the Bakersfield Condors. “I think it speaks to the quality of individuals we have that take pride every time they put the Bakersfield Condors jersey on that they’re competing to not only to win the game but to also stay in the lineup.
“That’s a very healthy situation to be in. I can tell you as a coaching staff, we’ve talked about this before, those are first-world problems when you have numerous good players to pick from in order to field the lineup.”
During the streak the Condors have had Caleb Jones, Gambardella and Kailer Yamamoto return from stints with Edmonton and have seen Brad Malone called up. In addition, veteran forward Ryan Spooner was assigned to the team four games ago (he has two goals and two assists). And now veteran defenseman Andrej Sekera (683 NHL games) has been assigned to the team for a conditioning stint and will play his first game in the AHL since 2008 on Saturday night.
“No. 1, our job is to make sure we get (Sekera) up and running during his conditioning stint,” Woodcroft said. “It’s going to mean someone won’t get to play but that’s part of being a strong organization. When you have a healthy strong organization you can absorb things like that.”
All part of playing at the AHL level, Lowe said.
“We’ve had a lot of moving parts this season, like any AHL team,” Lowe said. “Guys are coming in and you make them feel welcome. When we’re on a hot streak and have a guy come down from Edmonton, like Spooner and Yamo did while we were in Tucson, it’s just rolling with those punches and not letting anything interrupt. Obviously those are additions to our team that are going to make us better.”