They continue to motor on.
The Bakersfield Condors have won 17 straight games entering this weekend’s homestand against the Iowa Wild and San Jose Barracuda.
While the sheer volume of victories is impressive, the statistics during the winning streak are startling: The Condors have trailed for just over 49 minutes during their last 1,100 minutes of ice time; they've won won eight straight at home; Shane Starrett has been a primary catalyst, leading all American Hockey League goalies with a perfect 8-0-0 record in February. He's allowed two goals or fewer in 12 of his last 14 starts.
And, of course, the team's recent record-setting performance has been historical.
Here are reasons to head out to Rabobank Arena this weekend – for the hockey of course, and everything that comes with it.
They’re just playing well
This never hurts, obviously. People are going to support a winner, and the Condors have been doing a ton of it lately.
The team’s 17 straight victories are tied for second all-time with the 2004-05 Philadelphia Phantoms during American Hockey League's 83-year history. The record-holder? That would be 28 straight W's set by the 2011-12 Norfolk Admirals.
Leading up to the streak, Bakersfield won once in nine games. The team was on the outside of the playoff picture prior to this winning run being rattled off. Now the Condors have skyrocketed into first place in the Pacific Division standings, three points up on second place San Jose.
For those wondering, the Condors have never made the AHL playoffs during their three-plus years in the league. It appears — barring a collapse — that they’ll be postseason bound in April.
A strong fanbase
Who would have thought — ice hockey and Bakersfield, the ideal marriage.
Yet alas, lo and behold, the partnership has worked swimmingly.
On any given evening, you can head to a Condors game with 4,000 to 5,000 fans in attendance. No other sports event in town gets that type of draw.
Jerseys and souvenirs are sold in abundance, promotions and giveaways are a regular occurrence. The team's community relations are second to none.
The sport has been part of this city since 1995 — from the Bakersfield Fog, to the Condors' emergence in 1998 and their entrance into the ECHL in 2003, to the team eventually getting AHL inception in 2015.
Past players have settled down here once their playing days were up, and the fanbase has been built for over two decades now.
In short, the Condors are the benchmark for professional sports in Bakersfield.
Expect big crowds Friday and Saturday as the team looks to roll on.
It’s fun and easy
First off, tickets are cheap. Bringing a family of four won’t likely break the bank.
While attending a recent contest, I sat center-ice, seven rows up for $30 a pop. That ain’t happening at a Los Angeles Kings or New York Rangers game. Not even close.
The beer flows, and the margaritas are tasty.
And it's good hockey, the closest step on the minor league ladder to the Edmonton Oilers of the National Hockey League. A number of Condors have gone up and come down from the big club this season — Joe Gambardella, Cooper Marody, Josh Currie, Caleb Jones and Kailer Yamamoto all come to mind. Starrett, the goaltender, has been nothing short of sensational during this run.
What I'm saying is, there's talent on the ice.
And while a core of fans certainly care about the wins and losses, I’m also not sure how many are dissecting play of the team’s third line. I truly believe a good number go for the atmosphere and a night out of the house — compare it to going to the movies. It’s just a thing to do. Heck, maybe a fight will break out on the ice when it's all said and done.
Whether the Condors are 10 games over .500 or 10 games under, I believe fans would show up for the atmosphere alone.
And there's nothing wrong with that.
Blue collar sport in a blue collar town
There’s something about the grittiness of hockey that seems to resonate in Bakersfield.
The action is fast and physical. In general, live hockey is a sight to behold.
The Condors feed off the community and the community feeds off the entertainment. Both entities will look to keep the good times rolling this weekend.
Seventeen and counting. Don't miss it.