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CONDORS: Woodcroft encouraging creativity

"We never want to take the stick out of our players' hands. If there's a play to be made, we want them to make it," said Condors Head Coach Jay Woodcroft

by Paul Gazzola /

BAKERSFIELD, CA - The plays raised more than just a few eyebrows.

On the offensive goal-line idled Tyler Benson, assuming a low option on the power play. The winger received a pass, shifted his back towards the net and quickly stickhandled between his legs, firing a surprising shot off on Colorado Eagles netminder Pavel Francouz which, unfortunately, was stopped.

On a separate shift, Cooper Marody embarked up ice towards the O-zone. The centre skated graciously as he entered the blueline then finessed by dangling the puck through his feet to dodge a defending stick, sending a pass cross-ice that just missed his target.

Although the red lamp didn't light on either play, Benson's cheeky shot and Marody's flashy hands showed how creative the two forwards can be. 

Video: RAW | Jay Woodcroft 04.25.19

Neither has registered a point in the 2-1 series lead for the Condors but the two continue to sink their teeth into Calder Cup hockey, seemingly gaining comfort each outing - their latest sequences proving as much. It's something Head Coach Jay Woodcroft isn't necessarily changing and has observed all season.

"For us, we never want to take the stick out of our players' hands," said the coach. "If there's a play to be made, we want them to make it. 

"That said, we have principles in our offensive game that we think leads to production, and leads to outshooting opponents and leads to spending more time in the other team's end."

Benson and Marody led Bakersfield in scoring, went second and third in the rookie leaderboard and also placed top 15 in the League with 66 and 64 points, respectively.

"Our team led the American Hockey League in goals for per game, in large part because of the production of those players," said Woodcroft. 

"Those two young players have done a great job of performing and producing within our team concept. They did it through 68 games, they led our team in scoring and we're excited to see what they bring here on Saturday night."

Video: RAW | Josh Currie 04.25.19

Josh Currie has navigated the series and much of the season alongside the dynamic duo. The 26-year-old has grown accustomed to seeing the two exhibit their skill while providing the perfect complement, scoring 27 goals and 41 points in 53 games.

"They're going to create chances," said Currie. "If you look at their numbers as rookies in this League, it's really impressive. I just try to create space for them and let them do their thing.

"Nothing's easy out there. We just got to keep working."

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