EDMONTON, AB – Goaltenders can sink or swim in the blue paint and Bakersfield Condors guardian Stuart Skinner treaded the tide just fine in his third season with the organization.
The Edmonton product began 2020-21 in Oil Country and obtained his first career National Hockey League victory at Rogers Place before continuing his development in Condorstown, helping Bakersfield transform an 0-5 start into a 24-14-0-1 regular-season record.
“He came in, I believe it was the fourth game of our season, and really calmed the waters back there,” Bakersfield Head Coach Jay Woodcroft said. “Last year he established himself as an American Hockey League everyday goaltender, a No. 1 in this league, but we wanted him to take the step to become an elite goaltender at this level.”
The towering keeper – deflecting pucks with a 6-foot-4, 206-pound frame – was proud of his body of work when the horn sounded to cap the campaign. Not only did Skinner gain a valuable NHL experience but the Condors also earned the John D. Chick Trophy as winners of the American Hockey League’s Pacific Division – with Skinner posting a 4-2 record in the playoffs.
“It was an all-around really enjoyable year,” the puck-stopper, who led all AHL goalies with 20 wins, said. “Being able to start in Edmonton was a really good experience for me and then coming down here being able to have fun, enjoy every day with the guys and try to work hard really panned out for us.”
Skinner materialized during the season and his growth was reflected in the results achieved over the irregular ’20-21 schedule. As the wins mounted, so did the keeper’s confidence.
“Being able to play well in the (American Hockey) League is a good step moving forward when you want to play in the NHL,” Skinner said. “It’s a good step for myself individually this year. At the same time, I wouldn’t be here without the guys playing as hard as they did in front of me all year round.”
The 78th-overall selection in the 2017 NHL Draft will return to Edmonton to continue training with Goaltending Coach Dustin Schwartz over the summer. After the stellar stretch, Skinner hopes to continue pushing for a spot in the Oilers crease next season.
“I’m going to get back to work and raise the bar a bit,” he said. “Try to work my way so that I’m hopefully ready for the NHL.”