Coachella Valley Firebirds Win Opener

City News Service

(CNS) – The Coachella Valley Firebirds defeated the Calgary Wranglers, 6-5, Sunday in the American Hockey League team’s inaugural game, with Kole Lind scoring twice and assisting on two other goals in Calgary, Alberta.

The Firebirds never trailed, taking a 5-1 lead midway through the second period in front of a crowd at the Scotiabank Saddledome announced at 5,663 for the first game of the relocated and rebranded Wranglers, the former Stockton Heat.

Lind scored the Firebirds’ first goal, taking a pass from Ryker Evans from the left faceoff circle right in front of the Calgary net and putting a shot past goaltender Dustin Wolf six minutes, 59 seconds into the game for the first period’s only goal. Cameron Hughes was also credited with an assist.

The 23-year-old from Swift Current, Saskatchewan also scored the Firebirds’ final goal, controlling a pass from Alexander True just past the center line, skating on the right wing, eluding an attempted check by Jeremie Poirier and putting a backhanded shot past Oskar Dansk to give the Firebirds a 6-3 lead with 15:09 to play.

Goals by Matthew Phillips and Walker Duehr 46 seconds apart, the first on a power play, cut the deficit to 6-5 with 5:10 to play. Wranglers coach Mitch Love first pulled Dansk with 3:02 left for a sixth attacker, but Calgary was held without a shot during its 1:55 with six skaters.

Lind also assisted on second-period goals by Michal Kempny, a defenseman from the Czech Republic, and Max McComrick.

Andrew Poturalski gave the Firebirds a 2-0 lead 4:47 into the second period, their only goal in four power-play opportunities.

Poirier scored the Wranglers’ first goal 7:03 into the second period on a power play.

Jesper Froden’s goal at 10:31 of the second period increased the Firebirds’ lead to 5-1 and prompted Love to replace Wolf with Dansk.

Calgary began its comeback attempt on defenseman Nick DeSimone’s goal at 17:39 of the second period. Matthew Phillips scored a power-play goal for the Wranglers with one second left in the second period off assists by DeSimone and Brett Sutter, a son of Darryl Sutter, the coach of the Calgary Flames who coached the Los Angeles Kings to the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014.

The Flames are the Wranglers’ NHL parent team.

Firebirds goaltender Joey Daccord made 25 saves, including nine in the first period and 10 in the second.

Wolf stopped 21 of 26 shots. Dansk stopped five of six shots in 27:35 of play.

Calgary scored on three of eight power-play opportunities.

The Firebirds led 32-30 in shots, including a 14-9 advantage in the first period.

Carsen Twarynski engaged in the Firebirds’ first fight, brawling with Wranglers center Mitch McLain at 9:33 of the third period. Both players received five-minute major penalties.

Lind was chosen by the Vancouver Canucks in the second round of the 2017 NHL draft, the 33rd overall selection, and made his NHL debut with the Canucks in the 2020-21 season, going scoreless in seven games. He was selected by the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 expansion draft. He scored two goals and had six assists in 23 games with the Kraken, the Firebirds’ NHL parent team, in their inaugural 2021-22 season.

The Firebirds and Calgary will play again Monday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Because Acrisure Arena is under construction, the Firebirds will begin the season by playing 18 road games and four in the Seattle area before their first home game, Dec. 18.

The AHL awarded an expansion franchise on Sept. 30, 2019 to the Kraken and Oak View Group, which owns Acrisure Arena, originally scheduled to begin play in the 2021-22 season. Its start of play was delayed because of construction problems associated with the arena in the unincorporated community of Thousand Palms, near Palm Desert.

Copyright 2022, City News Service, Inc.

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