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ROOKIE CAMP: Stukel, Iacobellis hoping to pluck spots on the Condors

Wichita Thunder forwards Jakob Stukel and Steven Iacobellis inked AHL deals this past off-season, and are looking to grab spots on the Condors in '19-20

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - Jakob Stukel still remembers attending Oilers Development Camp in 2015.

It's hard to forget, given it was Oilers Captain Connor McDavid's first foray with the organization as he created a buzz every time he stepped on the ice in Oilers silks.

"It was McDavid's first year and there was a lot of hype," Stukel recalled on Day 5 of Oilers Rookie Camp. 

"I just remember the (Billy Moores Cup) game where he had five goals. He put on a show. That was pretty cool to be there with him and learn some things from him as well."

Video: ROOKIE CAMP | Stukel 09.09.19

Stukel was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the sixth round of the 2016 NHL Draft but a contract with the Oilers Pacific Division rivals never materialized. 

Since that time, he completed his Western Hockey League career and then moved on to the pro level with the ECHL's Wichita Thunder - the Oilers affiliate.

"Being back now, it's been great," said the 22-year-old forward. "This is a great organization and this is an organization that I want to play for."

Stukel and his Wichita linemate Steven Iacobellis are both eyeing some playing time in Bakersfield in the 2019-20 season after successful campaigns in the ECHL. 

Stukel, a left winger, compiled 19 goals and 42 points in 57 outings. Iacobellis, meanwhile, struck 23 times and finished the season with 65 points in 58 matches, earning an ECHL All-Star Team nod in the process.

"Me and Stukes both had pretty decent years last year," said Iacobellis. "He's an unbelievable player. We're hoping to make that jump. I think we can both do it. 

Video: ROOKIE CAMP | Iacobellis 09.09.19

"We learned a lot down in the Coast and we're learning a lot up here with Woody."

The pair felt they performed their best when they were playing on the same line with the Thunder. They weren't partnered up together on Saturday when the Oilers Rookies faced the Flames Rookies in Red Deer, AB, but should they take the ice together again, they hope to transfer some of that ECHL success over.

"I felt like once I was playing with him, I was playing my best hockey," said Stukel. "I think we were just feeding off each other. He's a really easy player to play with and if I get the chance to play with him again, it would be awesome."

Stukel and Iacobellis are two skaters who define their games by the speed they play it at, complementing one another by using quickness and puck management to their advantage. 

Condors Head Coach Jay Woodcroft got to know Stukel near the end of the '18-19 season after the forward suited up in 10 games with the Condors, scoring three goals and three assists.

"He represented a speed dimension when we wanted to inject some legs into our lineup," Woodcroft said of Stukel. "He stayed with us through our entire playoff run and I think that opened his eyes in terms of the level of intensity in the American Hockey League the farther along you go."

Video: ROOKIE CAMP | Woodcroft 09.09.19

Woodcroft hasn't been acquainted with Iacobellis too much but knows the former UMass-Amherst captain is a cerebral mind on the ice.

"Just in my short time around him, I know that he's intelligent," said Woodcroft.

The two will hope to make the best impression on Woodcroft and Co. ahead of the upcoming season, which could see them spending extended time in California.

"Both those guys are looking to come into Bakersfield's camp to compete to earn a spot with the Bakersfield Condors and then go from there," Woodcroft said. 

"They're taking it a day at a time and will show us where they're at in terms of where they fit with their peer group down in Bakersfield."

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