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Painchaud hopes to finish strong in Iowa

by Brian Compton
With the 2008-09 season winding down, time was running out for Bakersfield Condors forward Chad Painchaud to get a look in the American Hockey League.

He entered February with the mindset that if he simply played hard and did everything he could to help his team win, things would fall into place. That elusive call to the AHL would come.

On Wednesday, it did.

"It's pretty exciting," said Painchaud, who was recalled by the Iowa Chops, the Anaheim Ducks' AHL affiliate. "We've played really well lately and we went on a great run. I think I've got to give a lot of credit to my linemates. We've just been clicking and playing really well. It's been a good last month."

Indeed it has. While the Condors have been plagued by inconsistency for much of the season, they are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and are threatening to climb out of the Pacific Division cellar. Heck, they're now only seven points behind the second-place Las Vegas Wranglers.

Much of that has to do with the way Painchaud has played recently. Skating on a line with David Bonk and Mark Derlago, Painchaud thrived this month, tallying 11 goals and 21 points in just 13 games. His 64 points (20 goals, 44 assists) is tops on the Bakersfield roster.

"Me and Bonk have been playing together for a while," Painchaud told "They put Derlago with us (and) we just got things going really quick. We found some great chemistry and just kind of took off from there."

Clearly that's played a major role in Bakersfield's recent success. The Condors will look to bounce back from a 5-2 loss against Alaska on Tuesday when they visit the Phoenix Roadrunners on Saturday night. Playing a simple road game is one of the things Condors coach Marty Raymond will harp on during his pre-game speech.

"At the beginning of the year we seemed to be losing those one-goal games," Painchaud said. "Lately we've been finding ways to win. I think our defensive game has improved tremendously. At the beginning of the year we were kind of running around a little bit. I think we've calmed down lately and kept it simple. We've been getting pucks deep when we needed to and we've been coming up with the big goal when we needed it. That's been a big key. We're finding ways to win."

It couldn't have come at a better time. For a while there, the chances of Bakersfield competing in the 2009 Kelly Cup Playoffs appeared slim. What a difference a few wins can make.

"Before the run we went on we knew we had to put some wins together," Painchaud said. "We've just got to get as many points as we can here and just try to keep winning. We can't worry about the other teams. We can only control what we do. We just want to get in the playoffs. A couple of more wins, we're right in the race and maybe in the playoffs."

Whether or not Painchaud will be able to help the Condors remains to be seen. Right now, he's simply focused on showing Anaheim that he has the tools to be a full-time player at the AHL level.

This will be Painchaud's second opportunity at the Triple-A level. The 6-foot-1, 184-pound right wing appeared in 22 games for the Chicago Wolves last season, posting 1 goal, 2 assists and 13 penalty minutes. Despite proving his worth this time around right from the start in Bakersfield, a promotion wasn't in the cards -- until now.

"It was tough at the beginning," Painchaud said, "but you've just got to put that aside and keep working hard. I was hoping that eventually something would happen, and it did. It's a great feeling. Hopefully I can make the best of it."
"I hope I'm there for the rest of the year. Hopefully I can play well and get notice for next year because my contract is up this year. Hopefully I can finish strong and play well." -- Chad Painchaud
Painchaud's contract with the Ducks will expire at the end of the campaign. Naturally, the goal is to convince Ducks to sign him to a new deal. Or, perhaps another AHL squad will take notice during the stretch run and give him an opportunity this summer.

"I hope I'm there for the rest of the year," said Painchaud, the reigning ECHL Player of the Week. "Hopefully I can play well and get notice for next year because my contract is up this year. Hopefully I can finish strong and play well."
Messier's son signs with Stingrays -- Lyon Messier, the son of Hall of Fame center Mark Messier, agreed to terms with the South Carolina Stingrays on Wednesday.

The 21-year-old defenseman appeared in 28 games for the New Mexico Scorpions of the Central Hockey League this season, notching 1 goal, 6 assists and 26 penalty minutes. He also played one ECHL game with the Charlotte Checkers.
Around the ECHL -- The Stockton Thunder have named 33-year-old defenseman Matt O'Dette the team's captain. … Alaska forward Robin Richards was suspended one game for instigating a fight in the final minutes of regulation in the Aces' game against Bakersfield on Tuesday. … Wheeling defenseman Mitch Ganzak was fined an undisclosed amount for a spearing penalty during Tuesday's game at Trenton. … Las Vegas acquired center Dan Riedel from the Dayton Bombers in exchange for future considerations. … Chris Cichocki, who was fired by Stockton in December, has been named an interim assistant coach with the AHL's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. … T-Devils forward Kevin Cormier was suspended two games and fined an undisclosed amount following his attempt-to-injure penalty Tuesday night. … Charlotte's Jeff Jakaitis was named Goaltender of the Week after going 2-0 with a shutout and a 1.00 goals-against average.

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