BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — UPDATE: Dylan Wells as of October 2, 2019 has been reassigned to the Wichita Thunder.
Heading into the new season for the Bakersfield Condors following up a historic year for the franchise, all three rookie goalies returned to the team during the preseason, ensuring they bring both their talents and personality back to Bakersfield.
“The most fun about being a goaltender is, well there’s an easy answer to that, which is just stopping the puck," Stuart Skinner said.
Something all three of the condors goalies do well. Last season they made more than 1800 saves between all of them. The goaltender with most experience for the Condors, Shane Starrett, he accounted for 1238 pucks blocked through 50 games.
Despite who had more time in the net for Bakersfield, these three guys all knew that’s exactly where they needed to be from a young age.
“My younger brother was playing with me at the time and he wanted to be a forward and I wanted to be a goalie and that’s just, I’ve been a goalie ever since," Starrett said.
“I’m not really from a hockey family, my parents aren’t really big into hockey, so it was kind of my choice and whether it was the gear or being the last man back there was something about it that just drew me to the position," Dylan Well said.
“Once I put my first pair of pads on, I never looked back," Skinner said.
“Even as I climb to the higher levels it just gets more and more comfortable as I play more and more games," Starrett said.
Something that’s not easy to do when the puck is flying at you consistently throughout a game.
“I don’t think I’m scared of the puck. I hope I’m not scared of the puck," Wells said. “You get nervous once in awhile for games especially if it’s a big game you want to perform and play well, but getting in front of the puck is no big deal for me.”
Not really for any of the guys who all played in the biggest of games last season all making Calder Cup Playoff appearances. A unique experience for this young group.
“You got me at 25 as the oldest and those guys at 20 and 21 years old," Starrett said. "And we call ourselves the union because we are the three out here early, putting in our work and we just have a good time as a unit.”
A lot goes into this 'goalie union's' success.
“You gotta be the most flexible, you gotta be strong, and have that mobility as well," Skinner said.
But, do they call themselves the most talented on the ice?
SS: “I don’t want this video getting out to my teammates and hear me say that.”
“I don’t know if I can answer this one," Wells said.
“So many talented players everywhere so you can’t really say that," Skinner said.
“You can’t just be a big body in there with how more athletic the forwards are getting and how more precise their shooting is. You gotta be athletic to make some of those saves sometimes," Starrett said.
“I’m not going to say there’s one that’s the most talented, I think everybody has their job, it’s just about coming to do your job every day," Wells said with a smile.
I guess you can add humble to their stat line, too.
While they all remain in sync, the team can bet they’ll be putting their individual talents on display.
“Every goalie is different in their own way and if that guy stops the puck that way that’s kind of his uniqueness of his expression of how to play hockey and I think everybody does that job a little differently. It’s just a way to express who you are and express the kind of person you are as well, so I think that’s a lot fun," Skinner said.