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FUTURE WATCH | Building a brotherhood

by Meg Tilley / Edmonton Oilers

Photo by Mark Nessia / Bakersfield Condors

It has hardly been an easy road for the Bakersfield Condors this season.

Challenged to make adjustments to their lineups due to player injuries and Oilers recalls, the Oilers AHL affiliate has made their way up the division standings, sitting in the balance of a playoff spot and symbolically proving that no obstacle is too big to overcome.

For Ryan Hamilton, whose hockey career and past experiences have all played a part in earning the role as the Condors captain, those challenges are what forge a team to pull together and step up.

“We know it’s going to be a battle to the end, and with that you can’t look too far ahead, you have to focus on what you have right in front of you and that’s what we’re doing,” he said.

The Oshawa, Ont., native grew up with the sport, playing whenever and wherever he could.

“I have a lot of cousins that played so I was just always around it and just wanted to be a hockey player ever since I could remember, so I was always playing road hockey or skating as much as I could, whether public skating or on the outdoor rink,” said Hamilton.

After years of competing primarily at the AHL level, the journeyman winger is a pivotal piece to the Condors team dynamics, helping to create and foster a culture that both welcomed and have helped mould recalled players into the already tight-knit group.

“I think you just have to be genuine, you just have to be yourself,” said Hamilton. “You’re not going to fool anybody. The guys on the team, they’re smart, intelligent guys, so I think being genuine is one thing. [Reflect on] experience that you’ve had, — I’ve had good leaders stimulate my past — you’re trying to help out the team any way you can and personal development of the player. Whenever you can really help out, especially a young guy, to try to get him to where he wants to be, I think those are really important attributes.

Photo by Mark Nessia / Bakersfield Condors.

“Hockey players are pretty much a brotherhood so it’s usually very easy for transition. In saying that, having all these new guys — when they do come to the team — it’s always kind of like a shot of energy sometimes too, when having a new player it brings a little bit of new life to the team so that can always help.”

It’s possible that Hamilton’s familiarity with changing teams and ability to adapt to a new environment stems from his youth.

“I grew up in a lot of places. My family moved around quite a bit with my dad, he just transferred through work quite a bit,” he said.

“We grew up in Ingersoll, Ont., for a while, then we moved out to Calgary for a year, and then into Chilliwack, B.C., for six or seven years and then we moved back East to Ontario…. I’ve pretty much moved a lot of places in Canada, seen a lot of Canada.”

Having joined the Oilers affiliate team in 2013 when they were known as the Oklahoma City Barons, Hamilton knows what it’s like to be a new kid on the block.

After his four-season stint with the Ontario Hockey League’s Barrie Colts, where he recorded 79 goals and added 49 assists for 128 points in 170 games, Hamilton signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Minnesota wild, joining their AHL affiliate the Houston Aeros.

Signed as an undrafted free agent by the Wild, Hamilton was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs where he played five seasons with the Toronto Marlies.

In his fourth season, the then-Marlies team captain made his NHL debut with the Leafs on March 23, 2012 in a 4-3 win against the New Jersey Devils, recording his first NHL point assisting then-Marlies teammate Nazem Kadri.

Hamilton has made it into post-season run with playing with all three of his AHL teams. His closest year to clinching the Calder Cup trophy came at the end of his first season as captain with the Marlies. That year, he led Toronto in goals with 25 and was second in points with 51.

Photo by Mark Nessia / Bakersfield Condors

“I’ve been fortunate to have experience of being captain of the Toronto Marlies when we went to the Calder Cup finals,” said Hamilton.

“Going through that process and just knowing the ups and downs of the entire season, you always just try to stay even-keel and focus on the small steps of getting to the prize. That’s what we’re trying to do down here and try to win as many games as we can to get in.”

A big-body player with a mature presence, the 6-foot-2 forward has worked hard to get to where he is, having recorded 15 goals, added 11 assists for 26 points in 48 games, but what’s also doesn’t shy away from personal growth and development.

“I try to do whatever I can for the team,” he said. “Obviously I would love to score goals — that’s what I’m trying to do every time I’m out on the ice — but you don’t focus on that all the time because usually that’s when you’re not going to score, you have to focus on the little things…. I’m a bigger guy that’s been in the league for a while so trying to take the puck to the net as much as I can and use the cycle game and try to make plays when it’s there. Pretty much just try to concentrate on the little things and hopefully the big things take care of itself.”

Hamilton’s leadership on and off the ice speaks volumes. He values the up and coming talent that the league brings in and sees it as an opportunity for players to learn from one another.

“I try to absorb as much information as I can, whether from the coaches or even young players that I see and want to emulate some of their skills or ethics they have,” he said.

“Everyone is on the team for a reason, so you constantly try to evolve and improve yourself and improve the team — that’s probably the biggest mindset that I’ve learned over the years.”

His veteran status proves vital for the Condors, who are currently within shot of a playoff spot in the Pacific Division standings with a 24-21-3-2 record.

Photo by Mark Nessia / Bakersfield Condors.

“These are huge games and these are huge points,” said Hamilton.

“It’s going to be tight all the way to get in. Just, from the past, just knowing what you have to focus on in every game, it’s a matter of getting those points to get into the playoffs is huge. Every game is going to be crucial.”

Regardless of what seems to have been a tumultuous season for the Bakersfield team, — with player recalls and injuries preventing a steady on-ice presence — Hamilton said that it’s natural. There’s always a lot of movement in the American League due to NHL recalls and injuries, “That’s why it’s always important having depth in the lineup so we can sustain that.”

“But on the other hand too, it’s always a great opportunity when some players move into spots that they weren’t necessarily in before (such as Joey LaLeggia did moving from defence to forward). I thought a lot of players have done a great job of that when they were asked to play bigger roles — all the credit to those players and to the organization too for having such depth…. Players have to jump in and sort of relish those opportunities and I think that’s what our team’s been doing.”

Statistics For In The System Through Past Seasons: 14-15 | 13-14 | 12-13 | 11-12
Stats Updated as of Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Bakersfield (AHL) - Forwards


Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM
GREG CHASE C 20 19 1 6 7 +3 25
BRADEN CHRISTOFFER LW 21 30 1 3 4 -11 57
JOSH CURRIE* C 23 38 4 6 10 +3 35
LEON DRAISAITL C 20 6 1 1 2 -5 4
MATTHEW FORD*   RW 31 46 21 19 40 +1 50
LUKE GAZDIC   LW 26 11 1 2 3 +1 6
RYAN HAMILTON   LW 30 48 15 11 26 -4 36
KELLEN JONES*   LW 25 12 1 2 3 0 6
ZACK KASSIAN   RW 24 7 2 1 3 0 16
KALE KESSY   LW 23 45 7 5 12 +5 47
JUJHAR KHAIRA   LW 21 32 8 14 22 +5 30
ROB KLINKHAMMER   LW 29 14 11 5 16 +2 22
ALEXIS LOISEAU*   C 21 12 1 2 3 +1 2
ANDREW MILLER   RW/C 27 42 15 24 39 +2 16
MITCH MOROZ   LW 21 30 2 4 6 +3 83
PHILIP MCRAE* C 25 24 4 2 6 -5 14
IIRO PAKARINEN   RW 24 4 1 2 3 0 4
TYLER PITLICK   RW 24 26 5 11 16 -2 4
KYLE PLATZER RW 20 39 5 10 15 -3 18
MARC-OLIVIER ROY* C 21 29 5 4 9 -1 14
ANTON SLEPYSHEV LW 21 31 7 3 10 -12 20
JOSH WINQUIST*   LW 22 21 8 14 22 -5 26
BOGDAN YAKIMOV   C/W 21 19 3 4 7 -5 8
DANIIL ZHARKOV (INJURED)
LW 21 - - - - - -
Bakersfield (AHL) - Defencemen


Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM
BEN BETKER   d 21 1 0 0 0 0 0
MARK FAYNE   d 28 4 0 1 1 0 4
brad hunt   D 27 40 9 22 31 +6 14
JOEY LALEGGIA   D 23 45 7 16 23 +10 32
DAVID MUSIL D 22 46 3 6 9 0 29
NIKITA NIKITIN   D 29 30 1 13 14 -9 0
DARNELL NURSE   D 20 6 0 1 1 0 7
JORDAN OESTERLE   d 23 39 2 20 22 -1 8
NICK PAGEAU*   D 27 12 0 1 1 -5 2
GRIFFIN REINHART   D 21 25 1 7 8 +3 14
DILLON SIMPSON
D 22 39 2 10 12 -3 12
Norfolk (ECHL)


Name POS age    GP G A P +/- PIM
BEN BETKER D 21 49 3 14 17 -2 53
GREG CHASE F 20 26 15 9 24 -1 28
Canadian Hockey League
Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM team
CALEB JONES  D 18 63 10 39 49 +1 62 PORTLAND WINTERHAWKS (WHL)
ETHAN BEAR  D 18 60 17 41 58 +10 33 SEATTLE THUNDERBIRDS (WHL)
NCAA & USHL
Name POS age  GP G A   P +/- PIM team
EVAN CAMPBELL   LW 22 28 5  7 12 +4 16 UMASS-LOWELL (NCAA)
WILLIAM LAGESSON
D 19 25 2 5 7 -8 20 UMASS-AMHERST (NCAA)
JOHN MARINO d 18 43 3 22 25 +11 37 TRI-CITY (USHL)
AIDAN MUIR LW 20 31 2 6 8 -14 16 WESTERN MICHIGAN (NCAA)
TYLER VESEL   C 21 31 6 11 17 +5 2 NEBRASKA-OMAHA (NCAA)
Europe
Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM team
ROMAN HORAK C 24 57 15 12 27 -9 32 CHEKHOV (KHL)
ZIYAT PAIGIN  F 20 37 9 18 27 +2 8 SOCHI (KHL)
  8 0 1 1 +2 2 KAZAN (KHL)
ANTTI TYRVAINEN  F 26 15 3 1 4 -1 18 FARJESTADS BK KARLSTAD (Sweden)
  13 5 1 6 +1 53 ILVES TAMPERE (finland)
BOGDAN YAKIMOV C 21 11 3 1 4 0 2 Nizhnekamsk (KHL)
2016 World Junior Hockey Championships
Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM team
WILLIAM LAGESSON
D 19 7 2 1 3 +7 4 SWEDEN
Goaltenders
Name age GP w l T GAA SV% team
KEVEN BOUCHARD   19 13 4 4 3 3.33 .882 MONCTON WILDCATS (qmjHL)
  21 4 13 2 3.97 .872 baie-comeau (qmjHL)
LAURENT BROSSOIT 22 27 14 9 3 2.72 .920 bakersfield (AHL)
EETU LAURIKAINEN 22 11 4 6 0 3.41 .903 BAKERSFIELD (AHL)
8 3 5 0 2.16 .920 HPK HAMEENLINNA (FINLAND)
NIKLAS LUNDSTROM 23 0 0 0 0 0.00 .000 NORFOLK (ECHL)
13 8 3 0 2.92 .929 ELMIRA (ECHL)
4 1 1 0 2.75 .901 CHICAGO (AHL)
ZACH NAGELVOORT   21 9 5 2 1 3.37 .905 michigan (ncaa)
MIROSLAV SVOBODA   20 1 0 1 0 6.00 .750 TRINEC OCELARI (CZECH)
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