Kraken Affiliate Firebirds
The Kraken’s American League affiliate Coachella Valley Firebirds failed to click on multiple power play opportunities and dropped Game-4 of the Calder Cup Final 3-2 to the Hershey Bears. The best-of-seven series is now tied at two games apiece with the respective home team having won all four games.
With the series even it means Game-5 on Saturday night in Hershey becomes pivotal. It’s a somewhat stunning development considering the Firebirds won Games 1 and 2 at home without relinquishing a goal, winning 5-0 and 4-0. The Bears answered back with a 5-4 overtime win in Game-3.
The 2nd win for Hershey also means the fans at Acrisure Arena in Coachella Valley will see at least a Game-6. That one will happen on Monday night, with Game-7 scheduled for Wednesday, June 21st if necessary.
Mike Vecchione, a 30-year-old veteran right winger, became the hero of this one. He opened the scoring at 4:27 of the 1st period on the power play and then lit the lamp again just 3:03 into the 2nd period to give the Bears a 2-1 lead. A little more than eleven minutes later he tallied the lone assist on Ethen Frank’s goal that gave Hershey a bit of breathing room. That turned out to be the game winner.
In the third period the Firebirds cut into the lead when Jesper Froden, he of 14 games with the Seattle Kraken this past season, made a great individual effort to finish at 7:01 on Bears goalie Hunter Shepard.
Not long after, Coachella Valley was faced with its 6th shorthanded situation of the game when defenseman Ryker Evans went off for holding at 9:52. It became the 5th consecutive successful penalty kill for the Firebirds in the game and set up a dramatic final ten minutes.
In fact, the Firebirds would finally get their fourth power play of the game with 5:45 remaining when Evans got dumped by Garrett Pilon of Hershey.
Coachella Valley didn’t click. The Bears almost scored their first shorthanded goal of the playoffs while finishing a perfect four-for-four on the penalty kill.
— The Firebirds 1st period goal came from Austin Poganski on a beautiful cross-ice saucer pass from Kraken top prospect Shane Wright, his second such assist in the last two games. Wright has a three-game point streak going in the Calder Cup Final. Coachella Valley D-man Brogan Rafferty head-manned the puck to pick up the 2nd helper.
— Hershey ended up out-shooting Coachella Valley 28-21. Power plays: Firebirds 0-for-4, Bears 1-for-6
— Shepard and Joey Daccord, the netminder for Coachella Valley and a part-time Kraken, have started every game of these playoffs for their respective teams.