The Hershey Bears lost Game Two of the 2023 Calder Cup Finals 4-0 after being unable to solve Coachella Valley Firebirds’ goaltender Joey Daccord for a second consecutive game. But Daccord’s perfect performance was not on top of Todd Nelson’s mind when speaking to reporters afterward.
The Bears were whistled for 10 minor penalties and received 42 minutes in penalties. The Firebirds were awarded nine power plays — six more than the Bears — and a penalty shot.
“A lot of players (like Sam Anas and Ethen Frank) didn’t get a lot of ice time today because we were killing penalties all night,” Nelson said. “Take 10 penalties, come on. That’s a period. So, we’ve got to smarten up.”
Full postgame media availability with head coach Todd Nelson following Game 2 of the Calder Cup Finals. pic.twitter.com/TPnzQ5OyCJ
— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) June 11, 2023
The officiating was so absurd that the Bears’ bench boss spoke to those in charge at the AHL to clarify what was going on and if Hershey should expect such nitpicky calls moving forward.
“I just talked to the supervisors and I just wanted to know what the standard moving forward is, because it was different in Game One than Game Two,” Nelson said. “And we’re going to see more of what we saw tonight. So at least that’s clear. So now I can go to the players and say this is what they’re calling. But I would have liked to know that before the game.”
Captain Dylan McIlrath led the team in penalties minutes and took four different minor penalties in the game — interference (7:33 1st period), slashing (3:48 2nd period), interference (9:45 2nd period), and tripping (18:15 2nd period). The Firebirds scored twice with him in the box, including their first goal of the game by Jesper Froden.
frodes gets us on the board🔥 pic.twitter.com/cevpmMIhHK
— x – Coachella Valley Firebirds (@Firebirds) June 11, 2023
“Once they scored their power play goal, then all of a sudden we have a situation on the second goal where we come back in the coverage, we lose sight of the puck, and they score, and then the third one went off the skate, it’s one of those nights, right?” Nelson said. “But we dug ourselves a bit of a hole, and Game Three is very important for obvious reasons.”
Unlike in Game One, where the Bears were non-competitive throughout, the team took it to Coachella Valley in the first period, out-shooting them 15-5. Their three best opportunities didn’t count as shots because they all hit the post.
“We stuck to our systems, I thought we played our style a lot better than we did in Game One, and it started to show,” Beck Malenstyn said. “We had offensive zone time, sustained zone time, chances on net, pucks around [Daccord].
“I thought we came out and played our game, did a lot of things right, and then just got into some penalty trouble,” he added. “That obviously takes the flow out of it a little bit for us.”
In a sign he, too, liked what he saw at five-on-five, Nelson indicated that he would not make any drastic changes to the lineup for Game Three on Tuesday at Giant Center.
“I liked our line combinations, the way they worked, so I’m not going to change anything,” he said. “I’m happy with the way we played in a lot of aspects, but I’m disappointed about how our guys reacted. The penalties killed us.”
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