Kraken Affiliate Edges Milwaukee
This “hockey town” thing is taking off. While Detroit coined and marketed the phrase back in the 1990’s, Seattle is taking over the moniker for real. First the Kraken fell just short of the Stanley Cup Western Conference Final in year two, the WHL champion Thunderbirds reached the Memorial Cup Final, and the Kraken affiliate Firebirds just punched a ticket to the Calder Cup Final in their first year of existence.
That’s called building a hockey town!
Coachella Valley beat the Milwaukee Admirals 4-3 on Monday night to win the AHL’s western conference final in six games and earn a trip to the Calder Cup Final against the Hershey Bears.
It’s the youngest franchise in the league taking on the oldest franchise in the league and the series begins in Coachella Valley this Thursday night. The Firebirds earned home ice by finishing the regular season with 103 points, the second most in the AHL, while the Bears finished with 97.
Given the distance and expense of travel at this level, the series will be played out in a 2-3-2 format, similar to the western conference final against Milwaukee.
The Kraken affiliate will host the first two games, travel for the next three, and then return home for Games 6 and 7 if necessary.
Tye Kartye, the youngster who provided two goals and five points over ten Stanley Cup playoff games for the Kraken earlier this spring, was the hero Monday night, scoring the final two goals for Coachella Valley including the game winner on the power play at 5:20 of the 3rd period.
Much like the Kraken fans at Climate Pledge Arena, the packed house at Acrisure Arena received all the drama and excitement they could handle, as the Admirals didn’t go quietly. After Kartye’s 2nd goal gave the Firebirds a 4-2 lead, Kiefer Sherwood scored his 4th of the playoffs for Milwaukee with plenty of time remaining on the clock.
Coachella Valley had to hang on for the final nine minutes with goaltender Joey Daccord making a grand total of 29 saves.
Young defenseman and strong Kraken prospect Ryker Evans scored the second goal of the night for the Firebirds in the 1st period, his 3rd of the playoffs, seven minutes after teammate Alexander True had opened the scoring at the 7:31 mark. It was come-from-behind hockey the rest of the night for the Admirals, who twice came within a goal of tying things. They just couldn’t find the equalizer.
Former Vancouver Canucks 2nd-round pick Kole Lind, acquired by the Kraken in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft, continues to lead the Calder Cup playoffs with 23 points. The 24-year-old added his 16th assist on Monday night.
Veteran captain Max McCormick is right behind Lind with 22 points, both men averaging better than a point a game in the postseason.
Cameron Hughes is next for Coachella Valley with 17 points, followed by Evans and True with 16. Luke Evangelista finished as the top scorer for Milwaukee, one point behind that group.
The Hershey Bears feature leading scorer Aliaksei Protas, a giant Belarusian forward, a 2019 3rd-round pick of the Washington Capitals, the Bears’ NHL affiliate. The 6-foot-6, 225-pounder has 12 points in 13 games.
As pointed out earlier, the Firebirds have played a lot of hockey to get here, just one game short (19) of the maximum possible through four series. The Bears would seem to have the fresher legs.
After an opening round bye, Hersehy beat the Charlotte Checkers in four games, swept the Hartford Wolf Pack in three, and downed the Rochester Americans in six.