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Calder back on ice with Bakersfield Condors

by Lindsay Kramer /
Talk about walking a tightrope of nervous anxiety! Just a few days ago, veteran forward Kyle Calder was unemployed and waiting for the birth of his third child.

Luckily for him, his wife, Alecia, and the Anaheim Ducks stepped in to get their jobs done.

Alecia gave birth to a boy on Oct. 30, two days after the Ducks gave him a chance to earn a paycheck and stay relatively close to his family by playing with the Bakersfield Condors.

"Your mind kind of goes all over the place," said Calder, 30. "One time it's this, another time, it's that. It's thinking about your kid. It's like 'Uh-oh, what are we going to do here?'"

The immediate answer is to showcase himself with the Condors, who play about 120 miles away from Calder's home in Hermosa Beach. The stint will represent Calder's first minor-league experience since 2000-01 with AHL Norfolk. Since that season, Calder has skated in 568 of his 576 NHL games.

During his career, Calder has recorded two 20-goal seasons (2003-04 and 2005-06) and twice appeared in 80-plus games in a single season. In the 2007 Stanley Cup playoffs, Calder played in a career-high 13 games with Detroit before falling to Anaheim in the Western Conference Finals.

Last season, he played 74 games with the Kings. He went to training camp with Anaheim this season, but the Ducks didn't offer him a two-way pact until the end of October.

"I wasn't really sure 100 percent where I was going to be," he said of the interlude. "I stayed in shape. I rode a bike. I got on the ice a couple times. I had my fingers crossed. I was hoping it would (work out)."

Calder said Anaheim was upfront about its immediate plans for him. Although they vary dramatically from the level of hockey he's used to, Calder appreciates finally having more answers than questions.

"They kind of wanted me to stay around and skate. They told me I was going to come here," Calder said. "That's fine with me. I feel pretty good. I'm excited for the games coming up. It's going to be a test for me. I think (it's) just go out, work, things will happen."
Let's make a deal -- Elmira Jackals goalie Chris Holt likes to strike an informal bargain with his teammates.

Score me an average of one goal a period over the course of a game, he insists, and I'll at least get you to overtime and help pick up a point.

"They say, 'We can do that,'" Holt said. "If my team ever scores three goals in a game and we don't get a point, I take complete responsibility for the loss. There is no excuse for me to give up four goals in a game. It raises the bar on the expectations I set for myself."

Everyone has their bad nights, obviously. The Jackals haven't run across one yet this season, though, starting off 7-0, one shy of the league record. And Holt's streak of solid or better netminding has lasted much longer.

Holt, 24, has played 30-straight games without allowing more than three goals, a run that reaches back into the 2007-08 season. When it comes to giving your team a chance to win - and Holt skated for Peoria, St. Louis and Alaska last season - that's what you call holding up your end of the bargain.

"I'd call it a hot streak. But I feel like it's something I should be doing," he said. "I try to pride myself on consistency. I demand it out of myself. I was always told to take responsibility for everything. It's your job to save the puck. That's it."
Leap of faith -- Sound of mind and body once more, forward Tyler Hirsch is ready to attack his pro career again.

Hirsch, 25, walked away from the game two seasons ago and didn't come back until this fall. The problem wasn't his ability. He tallied 30 points in 31 games for Johnstown in 2007-08. But there were a couple other, gnawing issues.

He needed surgery to fix a minor knee problem that year, and he was also interested in finishing his degree from Minnesota. So he went back to school in the second semester, and stayed there long enough to polish off a degree in business and marketing.

"I feel pretty good. I'm excited for the games coming up. It's going to be a test for me. I think (it's) just go out, work, things will happen."
-- Kyle Calder

"I knew what my goals were as a person," he said. "Finishing college was important to me."

Sitting out the full 2008-09 season was great for his knee and schoolwork, but risky for his game. He returned to Johnstown this year on only a tryout deal, then earned a regular ECHL pact before the season began. The tenuousness of his comeback was highlighted when the Chiefs released him earlier this week, though Hirsch hopes to catch on somewhere else.

"There was no guarantees. I guess you have to go on blind faith," Hirsch said of his efforts. "You don't really have a lot of the same indicators (working on his own) guys do during the year.  The motivation has to come from yourself. I was out of the loop, not knowing where I was going to play. I stuck with it, slow and steady. There's still some rust falling off. As a pro, I really don't feel like I've gotten going. But I'm taking it as get better every day."
Around the ECHL -- Utah's league-leading offense, averaging five goals per game, has seven players posting at least a point per contest. ... Wheeling assistant coach Doug Doull made his head coaching debut on Oct. 31 in the Nailers' 6-3 loss to Cincinnati. Doull was filling in for head coach Greg Puhalski, whose wife, Ally, gave birth to a daughter on Oct. 29. ... Johnstown has entered into an affiliation agreement with the Minnesota Wild for the 2009-10 season. ... Kalamazoo had allowed just three power play goals in its first six games before giving up five to Toledo on Oct. 31. ... Gwinnett has played in five-consecutive games that went beyond regulation time, two of which were decided in a shootout.  The mark breaks the previous team record of four straight extra session games, which has occurred twice. ... Elmira sold out its third-straight game Oct. 30 vs. Cincinnati, the first time that's happened since the Jackals joined the ECHL in 2007-08. ... The Jackals' seven straight wins tie the club record for longest winning streak. ... Reading's current three-game win streak matches the longest it posted all of last season. ... Johnstown has lost four games this season by one goal. Last season, the Chiefs did not end up with their fourth one-goal loss until Dec. 12. ... South Carolina started a perfect 13-for-13 on the penalty kill in road games.

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