The ebbs and flows were mighty in Game-6 between the Kraken affiliate Coachella Valley Firebirds and the Washington Capitals affiliate Hershey Bears.
The Bears, looking to wrap up their all-time American Hockey League best 12th Calder Cup title with a victory in Monday night’s game, came out flying. They lit the lamp just 1:33 into the hockey game on a goal by Connor McMichael.
After withstanding the initial wave from a Hershey team trying to finish the series, the Firebirds found their legs in a big way, scoring three times in 6:42 of playing time.
Coachella Valley captain Max McCormick started things with a power play goal at 10:10.
Part-time Kraken skater John Hayden put his club in front 2-1 with an even strength marker at 12:01.
Cameron Hughes stretched the lead before the 1st period was over at 16:52. Talk about saving your best for last, all four of Hughes’s postseason goals have come in the Calder Cup Final. The 26-year-old winger was drafted by the Boston Bruins in the 6th-round of the NHL Draft in 2015 and has two games of NHL experience.
Kraken Lead At 2
The lead stayed the same after 40-minutes with each team scoring a goal. The Acrisure Arena crowd became a bit nervous when big Bears winger Beck Malenstyn scored just 3:28 into the 2nd period to cut the home team lead to 3-2.
When Hughes took a hooking infraction just moments later, matters became even more tense, but the Firebirds killed the penalty without allowing a shot. In fact, Coachella Valley goalie Joey Daccord only faced three shots-on-goal all period.
Meanwhile, Calder Cup playoffs leading scorer Kole Lind gave the fans in the Valley a little breathing room again with a power play marker at 11:50. Bears goalie Hunter Shepard appeared a bit off his angle. It was the first Firebirds goal on the man advantage since Game-3.
Lind came to the Kraken in the NHL Expansion Draft in 2021 from the Vancouver Canucks. Their 2nd-round pick in 2017 has 30 games of NHL experience, 23 of them with Seattle. His 29 points are tops in this AHL postseason.
Guess who? Lind didn’t wait long to add to that points margin, picking up his 2nd goal of the game and extending the Firebirds lead to 5-2 at 3:57.
Bears head coach Todd Nelson had seen enough. He pulled his starting netminder Shepard and replaced him with Zach Fucale.
Ten different Coachella Valley players had at least one point at this stage including goalie Daccord who had the lone assist on Lind’s first goal.
Lind, Ryker Evans, Andrew Poturalski and Ville Petman each had two points.
The outcome became elementary, at one point the Bears forced to kill off a 5-on-3 Firebirds advantage midway through the period.
Despite that, Hershey decided to pull their goalie with about 5:20 remaining. Why not?
They would see some chances but failed to cash in.
Shots on goal finished 28-22 in favor of the home team. Power plays: Hershey 0-for-2, Coachella Valley 2-for-4
Game-7 will happen a little after 7 pm pacific time on Wednesday night at Acrisure Arena.
It will be the 12th time the Calder Cup Final has gone to a Game-7. Hershey’s all-time record is 1-and-2, and of course, not only is this Coachella Valley’s first time in the championship series, it’s their first year in the league.