BY MIKE GRIFITH Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
It was audition time Friday night at Rabobank Arena.
Four new players were in the lineup for Bakersfield (three having just finished collegiate play and one junior play) as the Condors faced Las Vegas Wranglers.
The Condors were eliminated from playoff contention on Tuesday in a 2-1 loss in Las Vegas and the Wranglers left town on Friday with a 4-1 win.
And while winning remains a goal heading into the final week of play, so too is looking to the future.
Thus, the infusion of new players.
It's sort of a kicking-the-tires process for both coach Matt O'Dette and the new players to see if there might be a fit for next season.
Playing their first pro games after finishing up collegiate play were forwards Kyle De Laurell (Air Force Academy), Kevin Walrod (Michigan State) and defenseman Scott Macaulay (Northern Michigan). Also making his pro debut was forward Dyson Stevenson, who played for the Regina (Saskatchewan) Pats of the Western Hockey League.
"I though De Laurell really stood out there," O'Dette said. "He was on the puck constantly, creating, creating turnovers and getting opportunities at the net. Walrod showed some hustle as well. Stevenson, up front, we didn't play him that much as he had quite the day of travel (arriving at the rink about 2 hours before game time) so we kind of eased him in at times. Macaulay on the back end showed some good wheels lugging the puck.
"I'm pretty happy with the new guys. It's a step up for them and obviously a lot of nerves and pressure goes into it. I thought their debut was pretty good."
The Wranglers took a 2-0 lead in the second period on goals by Rob Kleebaum (on the power at 6:07) and Matt Campanale at 14:53.
The Condors brought the crowd of 5,560 to life when Art Bidlevskii scored five minutes into the third but Las Vegas went up 3-1 on a power-play goal by Carlo Finucci with 4:29 remaining. The Wranglers got an empty net goal with a few seconds left.