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CONDORS: Players, coaches return for practice rejuvenated

A day of recovery following 10 periods of hockey in two days had the Condors feeling refreshed and ready to fine tune their game at Monday's skate

by Jamie Umbach /

BAKERSFIELD, CA - A total of 10 periods of high-intensity, high-pressure playoff hockey compressed into two back-to-back games can take its toll.

The puck dropped for Game 1 on Friday at 7:10 p.m. PST before ending seven five hours and 10 minutes later at 12:20 a.m. in quadruple overtime, meaning there would be no morning skate for the Condors before rolling right into Game 2 nearly 19 hours later back at Rabobank Arena.

"It was definitely something that I've never been a part of," defenceman Evan Bouchard said of Friday's marathon. "Four overtimes was crazy. It's fun to be a part of, but it's a toll on the body and I think emotionally as a team we took the day to recover, do the right things, and be ready to go for the next game."

A quiet Sunday away from the rink with plenty of rest and recovery allowed the Condors to return to practice on Monday rejuvenated, heading into what will be the club's most-crucial two games of the season on the road in San Diego down 2-0 in the Pacific Division Finals to the Gulls.

"I think that was the big thing for us. We wanted them to recover physically number one, and then mentally as well because that's a lot to go through," Condors Head Coach Jay Woodcroft said of his players after Monday's practice. "They had a great day off yesterday, there was a lot of energy and buzz around our room today as there always is, we had a quick meeting addressing a few things on video, and worked on it on the ice."

The Condors were 21-11-0-2 on the road in the 2018-19 AHL regular season, the best in the Pacific Division, and know the task at hand heading into Game 3 on Wednesday at Pechanga Arena in San Diego.

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"I think our mindset is good," Woodcroft said. "We realize we're the top road team in the Pacific Division for a reason. We're comfortable playing the game wherever that may be. It's more about how we play and where we play."

The message at Monday's practice remained centred around controlling what they can control on the ice, blocking out outside noise and breaking the game down into distinct areas that needed improvement from the first pair of contests.

"We put in the work required to be an improved hockey club going forward. We think we're right there," Woodcroft continued. "The first game could've gone either way, the second game was a 2-1 game late in the third. Certainly, there are some areas we can tighten up, and that's what we addressed today. There are moments in games that we can get better at, and that's something we talked about all year.

"For us we had a good day, put in the work required to improve, and we're ready to go."

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