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BY MIKE GRIFFITH Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
The Condors announced two major signings on Thursday -- center Joel Broda and 2010-11 All-ECHL first team defenseman Wes Cunningham.
Both are expected to play significant roles with the team this season, though both could well end up at a higher level.
Broda, a fifth-round draft pick of the Washington Capitals in 2008, is a familiar face, having played 32 games with the Condors in 2010-11 while assigned to the team from the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League after signing a three-year National Hockey League entry-level contract. He had 30 points (17 goals, 13 assists) during his stint with the Condors.
"I'm motivated to play well and there is a great opportunity to have a good year," Broda said. "Since my time in Bakersfield, I've matured as a player and got stronger in the physical and defensive aspects of the game. I'm looking forward to bringing more of my offensive side this season."
Broda, 23, spent much of the past three years with the Aeros, amassing 38 points and 102 penalty minutes in 124 games.
"He's an excellent goal scorer that I'm familiar with from development camps with the Capitals," Condors coach Troy Mann said. "When his name came across the board, having spent time in Bakersfield before, it was a no-brainer. He wants to get back to the AHL as quick as possible and he is motivated to have a successful season. "I think he can be a top-10 scorer in this league if we find the right linemates for him."
Cunningham, 26, returns to North America for his sixth professional hockey season after spending last season in Norway, where he had 21 points and was a plus-25 in 38 regular-season games for Lorenskog.
Cunningham has scored 156 points in 265 ECHL games, having his best season with Greenville, S.C., in 2010-11 when he had 43 points (seven goals, 36 points) in 69 games. That put him third in scoring among all ECHL defensemen.
Having spent a lot of time on the East Coast, Mann said Cunningham was looking to play for a team out West.
"He preferred to play out West and I told him we (are running the Condors) basically like an American team but at a lower level," Mann said. "If he's playing well and getting his points (an AHL team) will come calling."
The organizational structure of the Condors, combined with a West Coast location and the tenacity of Mann and general manager John Olver, sold Cunningham.
"I was looking for a change and of all the teams I talked to, Bakersfield had the best organization," Cunningham said. "I'll bring experience, leadership, and I'll look to lead by example. I'm more of an offensive-minded defenseman, but well-rounded and I'll drop the gloves if needed. Whatever the team needs to have a good year."