BY MIKE GRIFFITH Californian staff writer email@example.com
With 12 games left in the regular season, the Condors brain trust has gone into full scramble mode.
That's what happens when call-ups and injuries come together at the same time and create holes to fill.
Condors at Ontario
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Citizen Bank Arena
Radio: KHTY (970 AM)
Condors record: 29-26-2-3
Reign record: 39-17-2-3
Series: Bakersfield is 4-3-1
Notes: The Condors are coming off a win over Las Vegas on Tuesday night while the Reign are riding a four-game winning streak ... Condors coach Troy Mann said both Chad Pickard and Tyler Bunz will see action this weekend in goal with three games in three days. Bakersfield hosts Ontario on Saturday night and travels to Las Vegas on Sunday. Pickard has started just once in the last 14 games for the Condors. Bunz started once in Oklahoma City during his seven weeks there.
The Condors lost No. 1 goaltender Laurent Brossoit and their top scorer Greg Miller to Oklahoma City on Wednesday, where defenseman Joey Leach has been since March 10.
Oklahoma City sent goaltender Tyler Bunz back down to Bakersfield so with him, and Chet Pickard, the goaltending is not a huge issue.
"Just a day in the life in the ECHL," Condors general manager John Olver said of the two recent call ups. "We have not had a lot of call ups this year, it's not something we've had to deal with too often, but it is the reality. And good for those players, they both played well."
While the loss of Miller (10 points in his last 11 games) may sting, the real issue is on defense.
Veteran defenseman Wes Cunningham has missed seven games due to skate bite -- inflammation and soreness where the laces are tied -- and will be out a least a week longer. And fellow defenseman Travis Gawryletz missed Tuesday night's game and will not play for at least a week due to an injury.
That leaves the Condors with just five healthy defensemen as they head into a stretch of four games in five days, starting with three games in three cities in three days.
One of the healthy defenseman, Jordan Heywood, is on an Amateur Try Out Agreement, and will be returning to Merrimack College (North Andover, Mass.) Sunday night to finish up an engineering degree.
"With Miller up and Growler and Cunningham both injured, all of a sudden we're down to 10 forwards and five D (one short)," Condors coach Troy Mann said. "It's doable, but this is the time of the year where maybe we look at some ATOs and try to replenish our depth a little. We have some roster spots as well.
"Heywood is leaving Sunday so all of a sudden you're potentially down to having just four (D-men) for Tuesday's game against Alaska. We need to get some bodies in here.
"Oak City only has seven (D-men). To me, until the (Edmonton) Oilers season is over, Oak City is not going to be any potential help to us at either (forward or defense) position."
The timing is not good for the Condors, who are tied for sixth in the Western Conference with Stockton.
Mann wants to finish sixth or higher to avoid a potential first-round playoff matchup with Alaska, which is tied with Ontario for first right now. The No. 1 seed will play the eighth seed and the No. 2 seed plays the seventh seed.
Travel to Alaska is an arduous affair and the Aces have the best home record in the league at 26-8-2.
Mann and Olver have been canvassing the college and major junior hockey ranks for potential additions -- they signed forwards Nick MacNeil on Monday and he scored in his first pro game Tuesday -- as those two seasons wind down.
That pace was ramped up after practice on Thursday with the news that Gawryletz would be out of action for a while.
"We need a guy, time to go to work," Olver said.