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Bakersfield won't be affected by Burke's departure

Friday, 11.14.2008 / 11:00 AM / ECHL Report

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

For those who are worried that the sudden departure of Brian Burke as general manager of the Anaheim Ducks will affect their ECHL affiliate, Bakersfield Condors President Matthew Riley took time to reassure his team's fans.

Burke declined a contract extension offer from the Ducks and will remain as special consultant to Chief Executive Officer Michael Schulman while Bob Murray takes over Burke's former role with the team. Murray had been senior vice president of hockey operations.

"Obviously our affiliation is with the Ducks as an organization, not with one person," Riley said. "While Brian Burke has been the point person, we've developed relationships with many of the Ducks personnel, and will continue to do so. We don't see this announcement affecting our relationship with the Ducks at all."

Bakersfield is off to a 3-6-1 start this season, but that hasn't slowed attendance. The Condors became the first team in the league this season to reach 40,000 fans and is second in the ECHL in average attendance at 6,138 per game. Rookie forward Matt Pope leads the club with 10 points (6 goals, 4 assists) in 7 contests.

With Monday's 2-1 win against the Las Vegas Wranglers, the Condors now begin a five-game road trip tonight in Ontario. Bakersfield will then visit Fresno Saturday and Stockton Sunday.

"It's time to put pressure on some of these kids," Condors coach Marty Raymond told the Bakersfield Californian after Monday's win. "We've had the approach of being nice and positive. I've seen enough. I said, 'Tonight is a playoff game. Let's go out and execute just like your life depends on it.' It was the difference of being 2-7 or 3-6. We had to get those two points."

Looking to bolster their blue line, the Condors acquired defenseman Ryan Mahrle from the Gwinnett Gladiators for future considerations. Mahrle, who has 4 points in eight games this season, was slated to practice with the team on Thursday and could be in the lineup tonight.

"We needed a reliable defenseman that can play on the power play, and Ryan can help us," Raymond said. 
       
Stingrays move goalie -- It's never easy to trade within your own division, but South Carolina Stingrays coach Jared Bednar did just that this week when he sent goalie Josh Johnson to the Gwinnett Gladiators for future considerations.

Johnson became the odd man out when South Carolina's AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears, reassigned both Bobby Goepfert and Michal Neuvirth to the ECHL last week. Johnson was 2-2-0 with a 3.20 goals-against average and an .894 save percentage with the Stingrays.

"I like all three guys and I didn't want to lose any of them, but in the end it's a business and you can't carry three goalies for too long," Bednar told The Post and Courier. "I really like Josh as a person and as a player. He's a pro all the way and everyone in our locker room liked him in a lot. It was just a numbers situation and we had to move someone and Josh was the odd guy out."

Johnson could be facing his former club as early as tonight, when the Gladiators host the Stingrays. While Bednar had a few options, he felt Gwinnett was the best spot to further Johnson's development.

"I had a number of options and ideally I would have liked to have moved him to a team outside our division. But this was the best situation for Josh and I felt like after what he did for us last season, he deserved that. It might not be what's best for the South Carolina Stingrays, but it was the right thing to do."
-- Jared Bednar on goalie Josh Johnson

"I had a number of options and ideally I would have liked to have moved him to a team outside our division," Bednar said. "But this was the best situation for Josh and I felt like after what he did for us last season, he deserved that. It might not be what's best for the South Carolina Stingrays, but it was the right thing to do."

The Stingrays scored three power-play goals and earned a 6-1 win at Charlotte Thursday night. They have now won four straight and sit atop the South Division with seven victories in their first nine games.

Weekly awards --
Mathieu Melanson of the Mississippi Sea Wolves was named the In Glas Co ECHL Player of the Week for Nov. 3-9. The 23-year-old had 4 goals and 7 points to help Mississippi post two wins against the Wheeling Nailers.

Melanson, who was drafted in the eighth round of the 2003 Entry Draft by the Minnesota Wild, is the son of former NHL goaltender Roland Melanson. He had 30 goals and 30 assists in 54 games last season between the Florida Everblades and Phoenix Roadrunners.

Florida's Anton Kudobin was named the Rbk Hockey ECHL Goaltender of the Week after going 2-0-0 with a 0.50 GAA, .987 save percentage and a shutout. His play helped Malcolm Cameron's club extend its winning streak to 4 games.

Khudobin made 37 saves in a 4-1 win against Gwinnett on Friday and then stopped all 38 shots he faced in a 4-0 win on Saturday. Selected by Minnesota in the seventh round of the 2004 draft, Khudobin went 20-1-4 with a 1.98 GAA for the Texas Wildcatters last season.
   
Around the ECHL -- The Edmonton Oilers have reassigned forward Les Reaney from the Rapid City Rush of the Central Hockey League to the Dayton Bombers. The 24-year-old rookie had 5 goals and 10 assists in just eight games for Rapid City. He had 1 assist in five games for Stockton at the end of last season and finishing his collegiate career with Niagara University. ... The Philadelphia Phantoms promoted Chase Trull after the forward had 2 goals and 4 assists in 11 games with the Mississippi Sea Wolves. Mississippi also acquired defenseman Mike Salekin from the Reading Royals for future considerations. The second-year pro had 6 points (2 goals, 4 assists) in 10 games for the Royals. ... The Rochester Americans reassigned defenseman Doug O'Brien to the Florida Everblades. O'Brien was selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the sixth round of the 2003 Entry Draft. He had 2 assists in 12 games for Rochester. ... Fresno Falcons defenseman Brad Brown was called up by the AHL's Quad City Flames. Brown had 1 assist and five penalty minutes in four games with Fresno.

Contact Brian Compton at: bcompton@nhl.com.
Quote of the Day

It's always a little bit weird, but it moves on. They've got a good team, and they played well tonight. I think that's just part of it.

— Peter Laviolette on facing his former team (Flyers) for the first time since his departure