|Bakersfield Condors center Tim Konsorada leads the
team in points, and is a key cog in their resurgence.
Convinced by some friends to sign with the Bakersfield Condors over the summer, the former sixth-round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets is now the leading scorer on a team that is fighting just to make the playoffs.
“Everyone always wants to win,” said Konsorada, who had seven points in 13 playoff games for the Bombers. “We have a good team here in Bakersfield. We’ve just got to put it together. I think lately we’ve been starting to win and figuring out what we have to do to win.”
Following an extremely slow start, the Condors are turning things around. They’ve picked up points in eight of their last 10 games and have pulled to within three points of the Phoenix Roadrunners for the final playoff spot in the National Conference.
Bakersfield coach Marty Raymond has tinkered with the roster over the past couple of months, including a deal that sent Justin Chwedoruk to the Wheeling Nailers in exchange for Michael Handza.
“It was addition by subtraction,” Raymond told NHL.com. “A few guys didn’t fit our mold. We got some kids in return and they really were energy givers instead of energy takers. They’ve really helped our team chemistry. Guys are starting to play with a lot more heart and know that we’re all going in the same direction.”
Brian Compton reports on the ECHL every week throughout the 2007-08 regular season.
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Raymond labeled Konsorada as one of the main reasons for Bakersfield’s resurgence. The 22-year-old leads the Condors in points with 39, and is tied with Mark Derlago with 22 goals.
“Although he’s a quiet guy, I find him to be a good, little leader,” Raymond said. “He does the right things. He doesn’t complain. He certainly has matured a lot this year.”
Konsorada admitted he was dumbfounded by the Condors’ early season struggles. It certainly was an unwelcome change after the success he and the Bombers enjoyed last season, when they won the North Division en route to an American Conference championship.
“I honestly have no idea,” Konsorada said when asked about the early downfall. “I think we just were making things complicated for ourselves. We were finding ways to lose and not win. We were just shooting ourselves in the foot a bit there. It seemed like every mistake we made came back to haunt us.
“I think we’re starting to play better lately,” he added. “It’s not too late. There’s still a lot of games left for us to make the playoffs.”
Of course, hopes of a Pacific Division title were dashed early, thanks to a tremendous run by the Las Vegas Wranglers. With former NHL players Peter and Chris Ferraro on the roster, the Wranglers jumped out to a huge lead that has since been trimmed to 10 points by the Fresno Falcons. Raymond admitted it was difficult to keep his players upbeat during the early part of the season -- a season that has seen Las Vegas lose only nine times in regulation.
“It’s never easy because guys look at those teams and they look at the Ferraro brothers and see that they have a powerful team,” Raymond said. “But what we have to do is stop worrying about other people and not look at the scoreboards. We just have to get in the playoffs and good things can happen.”
With three games in hand on the Roadrunners and 28 games still on the schedule, Bakersfield certainly has plenty of time to gain ground in the National Conference. The Condors will look to continue their climb in the standings tonight when they play the second of a two-game series against the Victoria Salmon Kings at Rabobank Arena. Bakersfield picked up a point Tuesday night when they fell in a 7-6 shootout loss.
“We don’t look too ahead,” Konsorada said. “We’re just trying to take it day by day. We just have to catch the team that’s in front of us, and that’s Phoenix. We try not to get too far ahead.”
That being said, Konsorada said he’s hoping to receive a chance to play in the American Hockey League before the season ends. During his two seasons in Dayton, Konsorada was called up each season to the Syracuse Crunch in the American Hockey League, appearing in a total of 28 games. Not only does Raymond believe Konsorada will get another shot in the AHL, but he’s also puzzled as to why Konsorada was snubbed from playing in this season’s ECHL All-Star Game, a showcase of the league’s top young players.
“I don’t understand why he wouldn’t,” Raymond said of a possible promotion. “He’s only 22-years-old. Not to be demeaning to any of our All-Stars, but he should have been on the All-Star team. He was very deserving of it. He played well for us. Do I think he deserves another crack (in the AHL)? Sure do.”
Around the ECHL -- Congratulations to Derek Wilkinson, who became the second-winningest coach in Charlotte Checkers history Thursday night with a 5-1 win over the South Carolina Stingrays. With 147 wins, Wilkinson passed Don MacAdam and now only trails the legendary John Marks, who won 191 games with the Checkers. … Fresno forward Oren Eizenman was named the league’s Rookie of the Month for January, recording 20 points in 12 games. … Brad Schell is back in Gwinnett. The 2006-07 ECHL MVP, who attended training camp with the Philadelphia Flyers, signed a deal with the Gladiators this week. He had 110 points last season. … Fresno goalie Jake Moreland was named Saver of the Month for January. He went 7-1-1 with a 2.08 GAA and had a five-game winning streak from Jan. 4-13. … Tyler Haskins of the Utah Grizzlies was named Rookie of the Month for January, tallying 11 goals and 16 points. The Grizzlies are just nine points behind first-place Victoria in the West Division.
Contact Brian Compton at: email@example.com.