BAKERSFIELD, CA - Condors assert dominance through their competitive nature. The birds are strengthened by a well-developed social structure and are able to soar to new heights as a collective.
The Condors hockey team is no different.
Bakersfield has placed itself atop of the pecking order since Jan. 12, winning 10 straight games. Just like their vulture counterparts, the team rallies behind its leaders - a group that leans on both experience and pedigree.
Dawning the captain's 'C' is defenceman Keegan Lowe. Drafted in 2011, the stay-at-home rearguard is currently in his sixth AHL season. In October, Lowe was named the Condors' second captain in its short AHL history.
Video: CONDORS | Leading The Way
"It's been a new experience for me and I've enjoyed it a lot," said Lowe. "It's a really good feeling to be able to go out there every night and try to lead the group by leading by example. It's a huge honour and something I take a lot of pride in.
"It makes it easy when you have a really good group around you and guys are doing the right things every night."
Sharing the leadership duties this season are alternate captains Ryan Stanton and Josh Currie. For both players, their nightly contributions come in different ways.
Stanton, much like Lowe, is a positionally sound defenceman in his ninth professional season. The 29-year-old comes to work with an experienced resume - one that has seen him suit up for 640 professional games, including 120 in the NHL.
His playing style embodies what the coaches have preached since day one of training camp.
"Right from the beginning of the year, we've been focused on defense first," said Stanton. "We set a goal number for our team with the amount of goals we would give up this year. We figured that if we got to that amount, we would have a good chance of making the playoffs."
Over the last ten games, the team has only conceded 21 goals against. Stanton mentions an "added attention to detail" as the primary source for their strong defensive outings. However, at times, he says their best defence also "comes from a great offense."
Cue Josh Currie.
In his first year being an alternate captain, the forward hasn't missed a step offensively in his fourth season with the Condors. With 19 goals this season - only three off of his career-high set in 16-17 - the 26-year-old remains a key cog in the Condors offense.
"A lot (of personal growth) just comes from experience," mentioned Currie. "Every year, you get a little more comfortable in the league as you get older and more mature."
As for the team's recent success, Currie attributes a five-game losing streak after the Christmas break as a big breakthrough for the club.
"We hit a bit of a slump there (before Jan. 12) but we have a very young team here," acknowledged Currie. "I think that was almost good for us to go through that. It let us know that every game is such a challenge and every game is so important in this league.
"Being on the road (during that stretch) really helped us. It made us come together as a team and bond - you really get to know some of the young guys off the ice that way."
Video: FUTURE WATCH | Condorstown 02.06.19
Much like the leadership group formed here in Bakersfield, the ten-game win streak has shown the different dynamics of this hockey club - ultimately highlighting the team's versatility and adaptability.
"We've found different ways to win games," said captain Lowe. "We've been holding onto leads, protecting leads and coming back. We've been having a lot of fun and we've bonded as a group. The results are showing that.
"We've got a great group of guys. It's a good mix between younger and older guys. There's not a lot of big egos in that dressing room. Everyone enjoys coming to the rink and when you're winning, it makes it that much better. We want to keep it going."