BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - There's been no rest for the Condors' goaltending corps this week.
After emerging from a flurry of opening-weekend games with a 3-0 record following two weeks of training camp, the majority of the Condors' skaters were given Monday off.
So why was Randy Petruk, who was in net for all three games, back on the ice Monday morning along with rookies Yutaka Fukufuji and Sean Fields?
To receive a bit of hands-on instruction from Los Angeles Kings goaltending coach Andy Nowicki.
"He's working the (expletive) out them," Condors assistant coach Paul Willett said Monday as Nowicki barked out instructions at the Bakersfield Ice Sports Center.
"I think that's a compliment," Nowicki said with a chuckle Tuesday afternoon when told of Willett's comment.
None of the goaltenders were complaining. After all, it's not too often goaltenders at this level of hockey get the benefit of NHL-level coaching.
The reason for Nowicki's interest in the Condors is simple: Fukufuji. The eighth-round draft choice by the Kings this year has been assigned to the Condors, thus the interest from the parent club and Nowicki.
"I'm here for Yutaka primarily, but I want all three of these guys to be the best they can be," Nowicki said.
Toward that end, Nowicki has spent equal time with each goaltender and given them guidelines to follow after he leaves this afternoon.
"He's given each goaltender an individual program to follow after he leaves," Condors coach Marty Raymond said of Nowicki. "He didn't have to do that, but that's the type of guy he is."
For Nowicki, the trip to Bakersfield has been a bit of a reunion. He worked as the goaltending coach for Bob Bartlett in the early 1990s when Bartlett coached the Lethbridge (Alberta) Hurricanes in the Western Hockey League. Bartlett, who is serving as director of player personnel for the Condors, has been in town working with Raymond since training camp.
Condors center Kevin St. Jacques played junior hockey for Lethbridge while Nowicki was there, and Petruk played for Kamloops (British Columbia) in the WHL when Nowicki was coaching in that league. "It's a small world," Nowicki said. "I have lots of linkage with this team. If I can help this team, it's a win-win for everybody."
For Nowicki, that means getting the most out of a goaltender through a variety of task-specific drills and positive feedback.
"I try to encourage and impress upon (goalies) how important it is to the team that they give the team a chance to win every night," Nowicki said. "That means busting their butt in practice, being prepared and mastering their craft. I tell them to learn all they can by watching tapes of the best guys and of yourself and to do the extra skating so they can be a great goalie and teammate."
Willett is getting guidance from Nowicki and will spend parts of some practices working with the goaltenders after Nowicki departs.
But this won't be a one-shot deal for Nowicki.
"If this lockout lasts all year, and it looks like it will, I hope to be here two or three more times," he said. "Right now, I'm planning to return in December."