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CONDORS: Going streaking

The Condors are the hottest team in the American Hockey League and will pit their 10-game win streak on the line Friday versus the San Jose Barracuda

by Paul Gazzola /

BAKERSFIELD, CA - No Polar Vortex - no dropped temperatures or piercing chill - can cool down the Bakersfield Condors, who are the hottest team in the American Hockey League at the moment.

Since their 2-0 win over the Colorado Eagles on Jan. 12, winning is all the squad has known. The Condors are red-hot and soaring, coming out as victors in 10 consecutive games and scorching opponents by way of a 46-21 goal differential over that span.

Video: FUTURE WATCH | Condors Town 02.06.19

The club has risen within the Pacific Division, sitting second with a 26-15-2-1 record and 55 points, and aren't afraid of boasting their current confidence as they prepare to host the Division-leading San Jose Barracuda on Friday.

Nothing can bring the Condors down at the moment, and players within the dressing room know it.

"The spirits are high, definitely," said goaltender Shane Starrett, who's been an integral piece of the successful stretch, backstopping the club in eight of the 10 outings the Condors have won. 

"We got a really good atmosphere going into the locker room right now."

There are good vibrations up and down the lineup, with plenty of Condors players seeing individual success during the run: Joe Gambardella has 14 points during an eight-game point streak and was named an AHL All-Star along with Cooper Marody, Patrick Russell is on a seven-game point production stretch, and netminder Starrett owns a .935 save percentage and 1.75 goals-against average over his last eight wins.

As a collective, Bakersfield's 10 consecutive triumphs is the longest streak of such nature in the AHL this season, and should the club string together their 11th on Friday, it would match a franchise record. 

Starrett, however, isn't concerned with the number of games the team wins in a row. Instead, the focus is on bringing the same mentality and tenacity into each upcoming outing.

"We just go into every game not thinking about that 10-game win streak and keeping it going, we're just thinking about winning that specific game," the keeper said. 

"One turned into two, then that turned into three and now we're all the way up to 10. We're just looking to keep this rolling."

Condors Head Coach Jay Woodcroft has watched his club improve incrementally each new month of the season. The first-year head bench boss heralded the culture of his group and their work ethic, and has implemented a philosophy that treats winning as a skill, rather than a mere outcome.

"Over this last little stretch that we've been on here, our guys have found ways to win games in different types of fashions," Woodcroft, who assumed the head coaching role on April 27, 2018, said. "Sometimes it's been our power play, sometimes it's been our goaltending but most of all, what sticks out is the work ethic and determination of our players.

"What we've talked a lot about right from the beginning of our training camp here in Bakersfield is that winning is a skill. It's a skill that's just as important as skating or passing or shooting, and it's one we want to develop in our young players in the American Hockey League."

After starting the month of January with five consecutive losses - losing four of them by just one goal - the club started their League domination tour. Woodcroft used the losing spell as a lesson to the team and they haven't looked back since.

"There were certain moments within games that just weren't going our way," Woodcroft said. "We used those as teachable moments to develop that skill - that 'winning is a skill' philosophy. In those adverse moments, that's when the team gets better and we've figured some stuff out. 

"All the credit goes to these players who are working their tails off."

This is Condorstown, the organization that has the most fun.

What's more fun than playing good hockey and winning?

"It's a blast right now in the room," said defenceman Caleb Jones. "We have fun in practice but at the same time, we know there's a lot of work still to be done."

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