BY MIKE GRIFFITH Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
The Condors bolstered their defensive corps on Tuesday with the signing of veteran Travis Gawryletz.
Bakersfield has not had more than six healthy defenseman for the past several weeks and has played with just five in five of their last eight games because of illness and most recently the call up of Erik Burgdoerfer to the American Hockey League.
Gawryletz, 28, has 120 games of experience at the American Hockey League level and spent the past 2-1/2 years in Europe. He started this season with Szekesfehervar, Hungary, a team coached by former Condors coach Marty Raymond.
"We got a scoop before Christmas that he was available," Condors coach Troy Mann said. "He started the year in Europe and things didn't work out. He had some health issues and ended up coming back to Canada to get things rectified, which he did."
Gawryletz was a teammate of Condors defenseman Wes Cunningham with Elmira, N.Y., in the ECHL in 2008-09 and played collegiate hockey with Condors forward Andrew Carroll at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
He also played with Mark Olver, the son of Condors general manager John Olver, with Lake Erie Monsters of the AHL.
"He had some other options," Mann said of trying to land Gawryletz. "I spoke with him just after Christmas for about 30 minutes. (John Olver) spoke to him. He was talking to Carroll as well. The comfort level of knowing a couple of guys here certainly helped."
Although he can chip in offensively (30 points in 120 AHL games and 22 in 74 ECHL games), Mann said Gawryletz was more of a solid two-way defenseman, much like Burgdoerfer.
"He played some really good hockey in the American League for sure," Mann said. "It's going to take some time to get him in shape here. With our defense situation he's probably going to be pressed into the lineup this weekend.
"We could go with five (defenseman) on Friday night. We'll see how he progresses this week with his conditioning. We've obviously been looking for a D."
The Condors, who have gone 12-6-0 after starting the season 1-10-1, play in Ontario on Friday night and host Las Vegas on Saturday night.