BAKERSFIELD, Ca. — Much of the team that made up this year's Bakersfield Condors have headed home for the summer.
But they left behind a season to remember filled with broken records and historic runs.
And, it all started with a first year head coach and a talented group of guys that fit together just right.
The Condors had a lot of one thing this year: depth.
"We have a bright future, a lot of young good guys, they all want to get better every day and that's the most important thing,” right winger Patrick Russell said.
Another important factor in the American Hockey League with all of the transition.
"Regardless of who was in the lineup that night we had a way of doing things, a set of standards and we wanted our team that night to play to those and we felt that when we did that, it gave us a chance to win,” Condors head coach Jay Woodcroft said.
Something they did a lot of in the 2018-19 season with a historic number of 42 wins.
And of course the 17-game winning streak. . .records aside. . .this unique group of players is going to remember the team first.
"Just being able to do with those guys in there, it was one of the tightest groups I’ve ever played with, it was unbelievable,” defenseman Caleb Jones said.
"When you're with a group of guys every day you enjoy being around and enjoy coming to the rink every day and working with, it promotes that positive energy around the room where guys are staying on the ice after and getting better, working hard in the gym because they are happy to be around the guys and happy to work for the guy next to them,” defenseman Keegan Lowe said.
And these players were happy for one another when a few made their NHL dreams come true. . .five to be exact. And coach's favorite part of his new gig.
"Absolute best part of being an AHL head coach, was to be able to make the phone call or tell somebody for the very first time that they've achieved their lifelong dream of making the NHL. Those are memories I’ll always have,” Woodcroft said.
A learning lesson for one of those players.
"Jay called out my name, I thought the worst and it was the exact opposite so you just got to be ready. Life's gonna throw curve balls at you and you got to be ready to take them and you got to be ready to take them and swing away,” left winger Joe Gambardella said.
"A lot of dreams realized this year for me and I’m never going to forget and just to be able to do it with these guys in that room is even more special,” right winger Josh Currie said.
The captain summed it up the best.
"You know if you win a championship, you win a championship, that's the goal, but if you forge those bonds and build those friendships and get as close as we did this year, that's a pretty successful year in my mind,” Lowe said.