PALM DESERT, Ca. (HERSHEY BEARS) — The Hershey Bears (10-4) opened the 2023 Calder Cup Finals with a 5-0 loss to the Coachella Valley Firebirds (13-7) on Thursday night at Acrisure Arena. Hershey’s defeat was its first road loss of the 2023 postseason, and the club is now 6-1 away from GIANT Center. Goaltender Joey Daccord pitched a 25-save shutout for Coachella Valley to give the hosts a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Hershey’s first shot of the contest early in the first period came on a gorgeous breakaway opportunity for Joe Snively, but the forward was denied in his attempt to light the lamp when he was stopped by Daccord. Throughout the night, Daccord showed a tendency to roam from his crease to cut down the angle on Hershey’s attack.
The Firebirds lit the lamp first with a power-play goal at 9:02 of the opening frame as Tye Kartye wired a shot from the blue line past Hunter Shepard to allow Coachella Valley to draw first blood. Ryker Evans and Kole Lind each assisted on the goal; both would go on to each finish the night with three assists apiece.
Ville Petman padded the lead for the hosts at 6:54 of the second when his shot from the slot sailed over the glove of Shepard during a 4-on-4 sequence to give Petman’s squad a 2-0 lead.
Andrew Poturalski pushed Coachella Valley’s lead to 3-0 at 1:59 of the third period as he got a shot off while falling through the left circle.
Poturalski set up Jesper Froden at 9:30 for a one-timer off the rush and Alex True put home a goal at 10:08 to stake the Firebirds to a 5-0 lead.
Shots finished 27-25 in favor of the Firebirds. Shepard went 22-for-27 for the Bears in the defeat; Daccord went 25-for-25 to get the win for the Firebirds. Hershey was 0-for-3 on the power play, while Coachella Valley went 1-for-2.