BY MIKE GRIFFITH Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
The injury-riddled Condors bolstered their defense on Thursday, but there remains plenty of other holes to fill heading into the final nine games of the regular season.
Bakersfield added D-men Joe Collin and Ian Barteaux, who were teammates at the University of Alberta. They practiced with the team Thursday, and will allow the Condors to skate tonight with six defensemen for the first time in seven games.
"It will be a little bit of trial and error for them but at least it will give us a full complement of six defensemen," Condors coach Troy Mann said. "I thought our last stretch was more taxing on the D than forwards, especially when we were running five defenders.
"Some guys (were) playing maybe a little bit out of their element, not only in terms of ice time but in situations they're not accustomed to."
Mann said he's been working hard on bringing a couple of forwards into the fold, but said the earliest that will happen is next week.
Up front, Joel Broda and Greg Miller remain in the American Hockey League and Spencer Bennett and Ryan Watson remain out with injuries, along with defenseman Wes Cunningham.
And goaltender Tyler Bunz is definitely out for the rest of the regular season and possibly the playoffs.
Bunz caught a puck in the throat on March 22 and suffered a fractured larynx. Mann said Bunz will be out four to six weeks.
"Our playoff roster is due (April) 14th and if he's not good to go, we're going to have to leave him off the playoff roster which means he can't play," Mann said. "We're not going to use one of our 23 spots for a third goaltender, that doesn't make any sense. Ideally, on a playoff roster, I'd like to see 13 (forwards), eight (defensemen) and two (goaltenders)."
With Bunz out and Laurent Brossoit recalled to the Edmonton Oilers, the Condors are down to just one goaltender, Chet Pickard.
Brossoit had been on recall to Oklahoma City in the AHL before he got called up to Edmonton, and Mann suspects once Edmonton is healthy goaltending-wise, that Brossoit will come back to Bakersfield.
That's because the Oilers signed Finnish goaltender Frans Tuohimaa and assigned him to the AHL.
"The signing of the Finnish kid certainly helps our situation," Mann said. "Now it is a matter of how long is (Edmonton goalie) Victor Fasth going to be out. All I know is he is day-to-day. Once he's cleared to play then they'll have too many goalies and I would suspect they'll help us out.
"The only one eligible to come here is LB. The Finnish kid is not eligible to play in the ECHL."
Waiting for Brossoit is a somewhat akin to waiting for Broda and Miller. Mann knows he'll get them back, but it could be right before the season ends.
"At this stage, based on how the last 10 games have transpired (just three wins), for me it's just trying to get us to play consistent hockey down the stretch and hopefully the wins will come with it," he said. "Hopefully maybe to get some semblance of a roster that is going to go into the playoffs in Game 1. We're just treading water a little bit."