December 17, 2013. I remember it well. The Condors were on the shuttle from Boise Airport and headed to the hotel.
“He’ll help us Holty, believe me,” then head coach Troy Mann said to me. The Condors were 7-14-1, in 9th place out of 9 teams, and had just been loaned a player from Hartford who had two goals and was -20 in 23 games with Greenville.
That player was Andrew Carroll. And he did help us.
Tragically, AC/Ace/Pistol passed away over the weekend. I don’t need details. He was 32 and that’s too young.
My good friend Will Hoenike, who was with AC in Idaho, had this to share earlier this week on his heroics a year prior to arriving in Bakersfield.
Carroll arrived the exact week that Laurent Brossoit was assigned to Bakersfield and all of a sudden, the dead last Condors weren’t looking like the dead last Condors.
The Condors shut out Idaho the next night 4-0 and went 29-16-1-4 the rest of the way. Carroll led the team in penalty minutes and Bakersfield entered the playoffs as the six seed.
We did this video with him before the playoffs. Looking back (maybe I’m reading too much into it), but it has a little bit of everything that he was on and off the ice.
1) (0:32) He was always scrambling to get everywhere. This day, he was working out until the last possible second before the show. He was never late, but he was never “on time.”
2) (0:45) He chirped everyone. Didn’t matter who you were, how big you were, or even really what he said. He had a way of making you laugh, even making fun of you, because of his delivery.
3) (4:37) He understood his role. He knew his line (Carroll-Steffes-Little) was going to be key to winning tight, playoff games.
4) (9:25) He had no qualms about ribbing himself.
5) (9:52) Those smoothies. First off, they were disgusting. It was like some sort of brownish, greenish, protein packed gunk. He made them every day after practice and one of his biggest kicks was trying to get everyone to sample them.
You all know what happened the rest of the way.
He scored a game-winner in Utah to win Game 1.
He provided the screen that allowed for the latest regulation goal in Condors history with no time on the clock to tie Game 4.
He won Game 4 in overtime and all but ended that series.
He opened the scoring on (for my money) the greatest home game in Condors history in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals.
I’ll miss you AC. Thanks.
Other notes heading into the weekend:
– Back-to-back regulation losses left a sour taste to end the 11-game stretch, but 6-3-2 (.636) with eight of 11 on the road is still solid. The Condors are two points out of a playoff spot (Stockton – 43).
– Saturday night is Hockey Talk w/ Holty beginning at 5:45 p.m. It’s moved to down across from the Ice Level Lounge. Come chat about whatever you want to chat about.
– The Condors have recalled Evan Polei from Wichita. Grayson Downing left Saturday’s game with an upper body injury and his status for the weekend is unclear, but the Condors only had 12 forwards to begin the weekend anyways. Also, Edmonton reassigned goalie Nick Ellis to Wichita.
– Ty Rattie heads to the AHL All-Star Classic on Sunday, with the skills Sunday night and the 3-on-3 tournament on Monday. You can watch it on the NHL Network.
Until next time Condorstown…
Ryan Holt aka Holty is the Voice of the Condors in his 7th season. He had an Italian Beef in Chicago and it was as good as advertised. Follow him on Twitter @CondorsHolty for more nonsense or shoot him an e-mail to RHolt@bakersfieldcondors.com with questions, comments, or blog ideas.