BRYAN WILSON – 05.19.2023

The Wranglers’ quest for the Calder Cup has come to an end.

It came down to one game to determine a winner in the Pacific Division Finals, as the Wranglers and Coachella Valley Firebirds battled in Game 5, with Calgary coming up short, falling 6-5 in overtime on Friday night in Palm Desert.

CGY Goal Scorers – Kristians Rubins – Clark Bishop – Nick DeSimone – Jeremie Poirier – Cole Schwindt

For the third-straight game, the Wranglers came out of the gates with energy and enthusiasm to start the contest and controlled the majority of the play in the early going.

Calgary had a powerplay opportunity in the opening two minutes, and even though they didn’t score, they generated a lot of momentum from the man-advantage. They would get two more chances on the powerplay but, ultimately, would go 0-for-3 in the frame.

The Firebirds were on their heels for the first half of the period – largely due to their parade to the penalty box – but even so, they would manage to slip a puck past Wolf to take the lead. Off a chip play into the zone, Kole Lind recovered the puck behind the goal and sent a backhand pass out front to Jesper Froden, who one-timed a shot into the net.

It was 1-0 at the break.

The second period was intense, full of hard hits, heroic shot blocks and multiple goals.

Calgary would tie the game at the 2:03 mark of the frame, when Jakob Pelletier picked off a pass out of mid-air to hold the zone. The puck would eventually work its way to Rubins at the blueline, who sent a shot through traffic and off a body in front, redirecting past Joey Daccord to even the score, 1-1.

The deadlock wouldn’t last long, however.

Just 33 seconds later, the Firebirds would regain the lead, when an initial save by Wolf forced him out of position, leaving Ville Petman to pounce on the loose puck and deposit it into the yawning cage to regain the lead. 2-1 Coachella Valley.

The Wranglers would continue to push back in the period until they found the tying-marker, and it came on a breakaway. Bishop turned the puck over at the Wranglers’ blueline and was off to the races, skating in on Daccord and ripping a shot glove-side to tie the game 2-2.

The third period was absolutely wild, with six goals scored in the frame.

First, Jeremy McKenna lit the lamp for the Firebirds, after receiving a cross-ice pass and firing it into the back of the net to make it 3-2.

The Wranglers would answer back at the 7:14 mark with a goal from Nick DeSimone to tie the game once again. 3-3.

Gustav Olofsson would respond for Coachella Valley just 40 seconds later, blasting a shot from the blueline to give the Firebirds the lead once more. 4-3.

Calgary would quiet the crowd 30 seconds later, as Poirier wired a shot into the back of the net, and after that, Schwindt tipped home a point-shot to give the Wranglers the lead. 5-4.

However, it would last for just over a minute, as McKenna notched his second goal of the game with a perfectly placed shot under the bar to tie things up 5-5 and force overtime.

Both teams had chances to finish it in the extra frame but, in the end, Andrew Poturalski would score the series clinching goal at the seven-minute mark to win it for Coachella Valley.

6-5 the final score.