Coachella Valley Firebirds Trounce Hershey Bears, 5-0, Take 1-0 Series Lead In Calder Cup Finals

Photo: Mike Zitek/Coachella Valley Firebirds

The Coachella Valley Firebirds blasted the Hershey Bears, 5-0 in game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals Thursday night at Acrisure Arena in Palm Desert, California. With the win, the Firebirds take a one game to none lead in the best-of-seven series.

The Firebirds struck first with a power play goal midway through the opening stanza and held the 1-0 lead at the first intermission. Coachella Valley stretched their lead to 2-0 with a 4-on-4 goal early in the middle frame, and held the lead at the second intermission.

The Firebirds extended their lead to 3-0 less than two minutes into the final period and then added two quick tallies midway through the final frame to blow the game wide open. Game 2 is set for Saturday night.


Hunter Shepard (10-3, 1.85 GAA, .929 sv%) got the start between the pipes for the visiting Bears. Joey Daccord (12-7, 2.37 GAA, .924 sv%) got the start in goal for the Firebirds. The forward lines and defensive pairs for the Bears:

Mason Morelli – Henrik Borgstrom – Mike Vecchione
Joe Snively – Connor McMichael – Garrett Pilon
Aliaksei Protas – Hendrix Lapierre – Sam Anas
Beck Malenstyn – Riley Sutter – Shane Gersich

Aaron Ness – Logan Day
Gabriel Carlsson – Dylan McIlrath
Jake Massie – Lucas Johansen

Hunter Shepard
Zach Fucale

Scratches: Ethen Frank (healthy scratch, 3rd game), Vincent Iorio (injury, day-to-day), Mike Sgarbossa (injury), Bobby Nardella, Henrik Rybinski, Matt Strome, Julian Napravnik, Bogdan Trineyev, Ludwig Persson, Dru Krebs, Alexander Suzdalev.


Joe Snively had the Bears best chance in the early going, stealing a puck at center ice and taking it in all alone, but Daccord was able to shut the door.

The Firebirds were awarded the game’s first power play with about 12 minutes remaining in the opening frame, and they would cash in on the opportunity. Tye Kartye (6) notched the series’ first goal on the power play at 9:02 of the first period. Kole Lind (17) and Ryker Evans (14) had the helpers.

The Firebirds went to the power play for a second time with about four minutes remaining in the period, but this time the Bears penalty kill was up to the task.

The first period concluded with the Firebirds holding the 1-0 lead. Coachella Valley led in shots 9-5 and were 1 for 2 on the power play. The Bears did not have a man advantage in the first 20 minutes.


The Firebirds made it 2-0 with a 4-on-4 goal from Ville Petman (5) at 6:54 of the second period. John Hayden (2) and Ryker Evans (15) had the assists.

The Bears were awarded their first power play with 3:43 remaining in the middle frame, but were unable to convert.

The Firebirds held the 2-0 lead at the conclusion of the second period. Hershey picked up the shot volume in the second period, out-shooting Coachella Valley, 11-9. The Firebirds held the edge in shots, 18-16 after two periods. Hershey was 0 for 1 and Coachella Valley 1 for 2 on the power play after two periods.


The Firebirds wasted little time in the final frame to extend their lead to 3-0. Andrew Poturalski (3) notched Coachella Valley’s third goal of the game at 1:59 of the third period. Kole Lind (19) and Ryker Evans (16) had the helpers.

The Bears were awarded their second power play of the game at 3:24 of the third period, but the Bears were unable to dent the twine.

The Firebirds scored two quick goals midway through the final frame to blow the game wide open. Jesper Froden (3) notched the Firebirds fourth tally at 9:30. Andrew Poturalski (5) and Brogan Rafferty (5) had the assists.

The Firebirds quickly made it 5-0 with a goal from Alexander True (7) at 10:08 of the third period. Max McCormick (11) and Brogan Rafferty (1) had the assists.

That would be the final.

Game 2 is set for Saturday night in the desert. Puck drop is set for 10PM ET.


  • AHL box score
  • Attendance: 10,087
  • Coachella Valley led in shots, 27-25.
  • The Bears were 0 for 3 and the Firebirds 1 for 2 on the power play.
  • The loss snaps the Bears six-game road winning streak in the 2023 playoffs.
  • Coachella Valley is now 10-3 at home compared to 3-4 on the road this postseason..
  • In the previous 84 Calder Cup finals, the winner of Game 1 has gone on to win the Cup 63 times (75%).
  • Should the Firebirds win the series, they would become just the second first-year expansion franchise to win the Cup. Since the American Hockey League started in 1936, the 1977-78 Maine Mariners are the only franchise to win the Cup in their inaugural season.

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
This entry was posted in News and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Coachella Valley Firebirds Trounce Hershey Bears, 5-0, Take 1-0 Series Lead In Calder Cup Finals

  1. Anonymous says:

    Well that was ugly.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hopefully jet lag or this series will be real short.

    • Anonymous says:

      Jet lag is no joke, and hots you hardest on the 2nd day.

      • Anonymous says:

        I think that’s definitely part of it, as all aspects of their game seemed off. At least I hope that’s the case. Saturday won’t be a must win, but they need to show much better or this is done in four.

  3. Anonymous says:

    “Over? Was it over when the German’s bombed Pearl Harbor?” Go Bears!

  4. Jon Sorensen says:

    Looked like a mix of things were the issue tonight. Missed Snively breakaway didn’t help the start. Other missed prime opportunities. 0 for 3 on PP is a continuation of previous concerns. There were mo moments of apparent lethargic play, particularly in the third. And yes, coast to coast travel has some affect. Game 2 will be fine much more telling where things stand.

  5. Prevent Defense says:

    FLA got skunked by VGK by five goals a few days back. They rebounded with a spectacular OT win. Bears have a chance to do the same. Let’s Go Bears

Leave a Reply