Bakersfield, Calif. - The Bakersfield Condors, ECHL affiliate of the Minnesota Wild, may have fallen to the ECHL All-Stars 9-3 on Wednesday night, but the 7,397 who packed the arena experienced a memorable evening in Condorstown.
The action on the ice
The evening started with the ECHL All-Star Skills Competition, highlighted by a triumph in the Sher-Wood Hockey Accuracy Shooting Competition for Condors RW Pascal Morency. Condors C Slava Trukhno finished second in the CCM Fastest Skater competition, while C Joel Broda finished second in the Reebok Hardest Shot. During the game, goals by Morency, Broda and RW Erick Lizon helped the Bakersfield attack, which was simply out-gunned by a talented All-Star Team.
Local youth, including teams from the Bakersfield Dragons hockey program, had the rare and unique opportunity to take the ice before the game with the All-Star player lineups, and left with the special experience of seeing a huge Condorstown crowd from the ice.
During the first period, a videoboard welcome message was played featuring Bakersfield natives Jonathan Davis and KORN, currently out on tour.
The ECHL All-Star Classic was televised nationwide to over 110 million homes, including those locally on Bright House Networks Cable Channel 21, and is already available on Bakersfield On Demand, Ch. 300. It was also carried live on Fox Sports Radio 970 AM, as a part of a nation-wide broadcast on XM Satellite Radio.
“Entourage” star Connolly in the house
Special appearances from “Entourage” star Kevin Connolly, Bakersfield native and Texas Rangers P Colby Lewis, as well as the Stanley Cup and Kelly Cup, added to the fun. Connolly, who was escorted by former Condors goalie and author and current E! Chief News Correspondent Ken Baker, met with a group of Make-A-Wish kids prior to the game.
During the first period, Connolly was honorary coach of the All-Star squad (though he later admitted during an interview he couldn’t help but root for the hometown Condors). In the second intermission Connolly and Lewis took the ice in a fundraiser shoot-out for Make-A-Wish, adding to totals from a raffle for “Entourage” prizes, contributing over $2,000 to the charity coffers. One of the loudest roars from the crowd came when Lewis, who missed his first shot, picked up a puck and threw a perfect strike into the net. Connolly also held a meet-and-greet with a group of fans selected randomly during the game, and had a ceremonial puck drop with fellow Hollywood cohort and Kern County resident Charles Napier.
Fans flocked to the Condors Photo Booth for a chance to pose with the most revered championship trophy in sports, the 117-year old Stanley Cup. That, alonside the ECHL Championship Trophy, the Kelly Cup, were on display through the night, and also made the rounds in Bakersfield, stopping by a pair of television stations and the pediatrics ward at Memorial Hospital as well.
Hall of Fame recap
The ballroom at the Bakersfield Marriott full of All-Star players and staff, league personnel, fans and corporate partners enjoyed a memorable Hall of Fame Luncheon as well Wednesday afternoon, presented by the Bakersfield Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and BFL Canada. The induction of four newcomers to the ECHL Hall of Fame – players Luke Curtin (a former Fresno Falcon) and Phil Berger, referee Joe Ernst and former ECHL President Rick Adams – included emotional acceptance speeches and insight into the history of the ECHL and the people who built it into the premiere ‘AA’ hockey league.
After the induction ceremonies, keynote speaker Dave Poulin, a former NHL All-Star and current VP of Hockey Operations for the Toronto Maple Leafs, gave a spirited and commanding speech addressing the players and guests. He then stayed after the luncheon to meet people in attendance.
Fan Fest a huge success!
On Tuesday night, a crowd of over 600 fans and All-Stars converged on the ballroom at the Bakersfield Marriott for the Fan Fest, sponsored by Bank of the Sierra. The “Taste of Bakersfield” theme dished out tastiness, while fans mingled with players, got autographs and played games. The Stanley and Kelly Cups were also on display while fans posed with, touched kissed and hugged the reknown trophy.
What Team President Matthew Riley says:
“It was an incredible event, all around. We were overwhelmed with the response from fans and others from around the league and the entire event was worth the effort. Our fans have asked for the All-Star Game to come to Condorstown for years, and without the support from the entire community it wouldn’t have happened. A special thanks goes out to Kevin Connolly and Colby Lewis, as well as other celebrities that attended – they were extremely accomodating and we were blown away by their professionalism.”
What Ken Baker says:
“It was an incredible night of hockey and charity. Not only were fans entertained, but many children and families were able to have a memorable and special evening with Kevin Connolly. I was honored to take part and do my small part. Bakersfield, once again, proved that it is indeed Condorstown.”
The Condors return home to host the Ontario Reign on Friday, Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. The first 2,000 fans 12 and under that night will receive a Youth Replica Jersey, sponsored by ABC23, 105.3 La Preciosa and McDonald’s.
Individual tickets are on sale through Ticketmaster and the Rabobank Arena Box Office. Box Office hours are 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday – Friday, and 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturday, with extended hours on game and event days. You can also call Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000 or visit them online at www.ticketmaster.com. Ticket packages start at just $31! Call the Condors office at 324-PUCK(7825) or go online to www.bakersfieldcondors.com for more information