Coachella Valley Firebirds Continue Dominance In The Desert, Down Hershey Bears, 5-2 To Force Decisive Game 7

Photo: Mike Zitek/Coachella Valley Firebirds

The Coachella Valley Firebirds downed the Hershey Bears 5-2 in game 6 of the Calder Cup Finals Monday night at Acrisure Arena in Palm Desert, California. With the win, the Firebirds even the best-of-seven series at three games apiece, with a decisive game 7 set for Wednesday night in Palm Desert.

The Bears opened the scoring less than two minutes into game 6 with a tally from Connor McMichael, his first goal of the series and the Bears first goal at Acrisure Arena. But it was all Firebirds for the remainder of the period, getting goals from Max McCormick, John Hayden and Cameron Hughes for a 3-1 lead at the first intermission.

The Bears cut the Firebirds lead to one with a goal from Beck Malenstyn less than four minutes into the middle frame but the Firebirds answered with a power play goal midway through the frame to restore their two-goal advantage and held the 4-2 lead after two periods of play.

Coachella Valley added a fifth goal early in the final frame, chasing Hunter Shepard from the game. The Firebirds would lock it down for the 5-2 win.


Hunter Shepard (13-5, 2.14 GAA, .916 sv%) got the start between the pipes for the visiting Bears. Joey Daccord (14-10, 2.22 GAA, .927 sv%) got the start in goal for the Firebirds. The forward lines and defensive pairs for the Bears:

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

Aaron Ness – Logan Day
Gabriel Carlsson – Dylan McIlrath
Lucas Johansen – Vincent Iorio

Hunter Shepard
Zach Fucale

Scratches: Mike Sgarbossa (injury), Bobby Nardella, Jake Massie, Shane Gersich, Henrik Rybinski, Matt Strome, Julian Napravnik, Bogdan Trineyev, Ludwig Persson, Dru Krebs, Alexander Suzdalev.


The Bears opened the scoring less than two minutes into the game. Connor McMichael (5) notched his first tally of the series at 1:31, assisted by Joe Snively (12) and Lucas Johansen (4). The goal was the first for the Bears in Palm Desert.

The Firebirds answered with a power play goal from Max McCormick (13) at 10:10 of the opening stanza. Andrew Poturalski (7) had the lone assist.

Coachella Valley then took their first lead of the night with a tally from John Hayden (1) just two minutes later. Ryker Evans (19) and Ville Petman (5) had the assists at 12:10 of the first period.

The Firebirds quickly made it 3-1 late in the first frame with a goal Cameron Hughes (4) at 16:52 of the first period. Ville Petman (6) and Gustav Olofsson (3) had the helpers.

Coachella Valley held the 3-1 lead as the first period expired. Hershey led in shots, 10-9. The Bears were 0 for 1 and the Firebirds 1 for 1 on the power play in the first 20 minutes.


The Bears cut the Firebirds lead to one with a goal from Beck Malenstyn (4) at 3:28 of the second period. Malenstyn made what looked like a centering pass that was redirected by the opposition past Daccord for the score. Riley Sutter (4) and Henrik Borgstrom (4) were credited with assists.

But the Firebirds would answer the Malenstyn marker to restore their two-goal lead with a power play goal from Kole Lind (8) at 11:50. Joey Daccord (3) had the lone assist.

The Firebirds held the 4-2 lead heading into the second intermission. Coachella Valley led in shots 7-3 in the second period and 16-13 after two periods of play. Hershey was 0 for 2 and Coachella Valley 2 for 2 on the power play after two periods.


The Firebirds made it 5-2 early in the third on Kole Lind (9) at 3:57. Alexander True (12) and Brogan Rafferty (9) had the helpers. Hunter Shepard was replaced by Zach Fucale following the Firebirds fifth tally.

The Bears pulled Fucale with a little over five minutes remaining in the final frame, but were unable to dent the twine. 5-2 was the final.

Game 7 is set for Wednesday night in Palm Desert with puck drop set for 10PM ET.

Video recap from “The Hockey Guy”:


  • AHL box score
  • Attendance: 10,087
  • Coachella Valley led in shots, 28-22.
  • Bears had 7 shots in first two minutes of the game and 15 shots in the remaining 58 minutes.
  • Hunter Shepard stopped 17 of 22 for a .772 game save percentage.
  • Connor McMichael, Sam Anas and Aliaksei Protas led all Bears in shots with 4 each.
  • Hershey was 0 for 2 and Coachella Valley 2 for 4 on the power play.
  • Bears have been outscored 14-2 in the three games at Coachella Valley.

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.
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22 Responses to Coachella Valley Firebirds Continue Dominance In The Desert, Down Hershey Bears, 5-2 To Force Decisive Game 7

  1. andrew777dc says:

    This don’t look good, does it?

  2. GRin430 says:

    Bottom line for me: Coachella Valley is the more talented team, and the Bears need to play a disciplined game — “the perfect road game” — to stay with them in CV. That didn’t happen tonight. CV also got a few breaks tonight, but so did the Bears. In the end, the better team won fairly easily.

    We’ll see if the Bears can figure it out on Wednesday. In my view, the Caps have benefited from this run no matter who wins, as the kids got great experience. But I know that isn’t what Hershey wants as a franchise or these guys want as a team, so I expect a better effort in game 7.

    • Anonymous says:

      That ice has to be at least part of the huge differential

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      I think you nailed it,GR. They are going to need to play their very best game Wednesday night. It can happen, but it will be tough.

    • novafyre says:

      Yes, win or lose, this playoff experience is priceless. Especially a 7 game struggle in the finals. Hopefully our prospects will learn a lot from this.

      • Jon Sorensen says:

        A bit on the number of games played by prospects, somewhat in line with what you are talking about.

        • novafyre says:

          High numbers for the year, but also it’s the number of playoff games this year compared to past. That playoff experience is hard to get and this year, even with the first round bye, they have gotten the games.

          Any news on Sgarbossa? Is he even with the team? How many of those scratches are on the trip?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Go Bears!

  4. Anonymous says:

    “Over?! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?” (It’s brought us good luck in the past.😁

    • andrew777dc says:

      – Germans?
      – Forget it, he’s rolling.

      Maybe it were these reply lines as well)) Why not give it a try))

  5. Jeremy says:

    That was atrocious to watch. Defense fell apart and the offense could not stay hot. Definitely a some guys who stood out as being problem makers for tonight. CV made adjustments for Game 5 and it showed. Hershey needs to make some serious adjustments, again, if they want to win Game 7. But based off of tonight, my expectations are back to Game 2 level. On another note, AHL needs to do a better job scheduling for future cup matches if there is going to be more west coast games. The time between games and traveling is way too short.

  6. Brant says:

    There will be lineup changes for game 7, that’s for sure.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hard to beat the same team four games in a row

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      I think Bylsma is getting the benefit from matchups – can’t put 4th line on the ice against their scoring line(s).

      • Prevent Defense says:

        One-game, on-the-road, winner-take-all Bears’ Strategy:

        Stock the lineup with best defenders, muckers, grinders, possession-meisters. Clog the middle and the slot and slow the enemy scoring machine at all costs. Win the game 1-0 or 2-1, even with multiple overtimes. Capisce? Good? Bad? Indifferent?

  8. Prevent Defense says:

    Funny Things always happen in Game Sevens. At least Hershey got off the schneid with two road goals last night. The perfect road game that GRin430 correctly describes is plenty possible — they only have to do it one time. And Jeremy is correct about the schedule. Heavily favors any West Coast franchise

  9. Anonymous says:

    “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again”

  10. Prevent Defense says:

    The NHL daht cahm website floats its first big “piece” on NYR newcoach, Pi$tol Pete Laviolette, authored by Dan Rosen. The article title reads, “Laviolette believes Rangers have skill, must compete harder to win Cup.” Fair enough!

    My quick analysis: The just-fired Gerard Gallant was a tough guy NHL player on the ice, and a tough guy behind the bench. Gallant’s Billion-dollar-bribe VGK’s were a few lucky bounces away from a Stanley Cup Championship in 2018. Gallant is the NHL prototypical tough-guy coach. Pi$tol Pete is too. If you don’t win, you get sacked.

    The reality is that most of the identical 32 NHL franchises hunt for that elusive coach who can somehow achieve “superior work ethic” as Newcoach Laviolette puts it. They must simultaneously have this particular season’s “Big Thing” that wins the Championship (team speed, “play heavy”, puck possession etc etc ad nauseum).
    Looks to me that the most successful NHL teams win the annual War of Attrition that includes roster health, player stamina, magnificent harmony among all the moving pieces, Salary Capology, and perhaps favorable playoff “matchups.”

    In short, NHL success, translating into a Championship, has a lot of blind luck and fortune to it. Best of Luck, Pi$tol Pete! I wish Spencer Carbury BETTER luck.

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