The Bakersfield Condors have gotten off to a good start by winning their first game of the season 3–2 over the Coachella Valley Firebirds. This is an update that will be done on the young prospects of the Condors roster that had good games.
Who stood out this week
Raphael Lavoie: A-
There should be no surprises here. Raphael Lavoie stood out in such a great way and not just on the offensive side of the puck. He got one assist and played very well on the forecheck. He also had another great chance on net as he picked off a cross ice pass made by Coachella’s forward John Hayden and went in on a breakaway. Unfortunately, he did not convert but he was a constant thorn offensively for the Firebirds with his five shots on goal. Lavoie was also decent defensively for the Condors. It doesn’t seem like there is any signs of negativity in his game or mood for being sent down to the AHL.
Noel Hoefenmayer: A+
I will admit that I did not think much about Noel Hoefenmayer when the Edmonton Oilers signed him except for him being in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization for a while. But, his first game of the season was very impressive. He notched the game winning goal in the third period of play off a howitzer from the point and, before that, he also got into a fight with one of the opponents player which got him 17 minutes in penalties. The Oilers have a good offensive defencemen there that may become a good call up at times. But, in reality, he will be a mainstay for the Condors and a very good leader.
Matvey Petrov: B+
The professional debut had come this Friday for one of the Oilers top prospects, Matvey Petrov, and I was very surprised by it. Surprised in a very positive way! Usually, a prospect that comes into the professional game finds the first game very challenging and too fast at times. But, for Petrov, it did not seem that way. He was very hard on forecheck and was decent defensively as he took away space from the Firebirds and did good on the passing lanes. As usual, when Petrov got the chance to shoot at the net, he did not shy away from it as he garnered two shots on goal and almost set up a goal for the Condors. He finished the night +1. He’s off to a strong start as well.
Xavier Bourgault: B+
Xavier Bourgault had a strong preseason with the Oilers and he also had a great first preseason game for the Condors as he scored two goals. His first regular season game with the Condors was strong as well and it seems he has started to create chemistry with his centre Lane Pederson. He did not score and he wasn’t able to get a shot on goal but the forechecking, cycling, and passing with Pederson has shown lots of promise. Bourgault was very good in creating turnovers for his line mates and he showed good two way ability all over the ice. His penalty killing work has continued to improve and that is great to see as it seems like the Oilers may need stronger penalty killers for the future. This chemistry between Pederson and Bourgault may have some promise going forward so we will see what happens next week.
Maximus Wanner: C+
Just like Petrov, Max Wanner made his professional debut on Friday. Unfortunately, there were some issues to his game but that does not mean that there was promise as well. It seems that the speed of the AHL game was a bit too much in situations for Wanner and that put him in tough situations over the ice. It’s understandable that the professional game was fast for him his first time around, but he is a solid NHL prospect. If he continues to develop the way the Oilers have been utilizing him, there is no doubt in my mind that he will become an NHL defenceman. Wanner showed his agitating and aggressive style of play against the Firebirds along with his instincts in reacting to a defensive situation correctly. There were some negatives and there were some positive. We will see how he does in the coming weeks.
Unknowns for the first week
Unfortunately, Ty Tullio was unavailable so he did not play in the first game of the season. Carter Savoie did play on a line with Brad Malone and Dino Kambeitz. The line was very quiet so it may need a spark for next game. Savoie did not see out of place, however, which was good to see. I expect more from him in the coming weeks
In terms of goaltending prospects, Olivier Rodrigue did not play in the first game either. I was a little surprised by Colin Chaulk’s decision to go with Calvin Pickard and not Rodrigue. However, Pickard had a fantastic game and was one of the top three reasons the Condors won. I expect Rodrigue to get one of the games coming this week. His preseason game in the NHL was very strong which is why I am intrigued to see how he does in the AHL this year.
We will see who will surprise and who will not in Week 2!