The Coachella Valley Firebirds did not hold a morning skate ahead of Game Five on Saturday.
One would assume it was because the team wanted to save its legs after a long postseason run that has seen them play a league-high 23 playoff games. Or maybe because they wanted to go over game film inside the locker room.
Nope. According to Firebirds media — KESQ sports reporter Blake Arthur — the team had to change hotels. The team is now staying 40-plus minutes away from Hershey’s Giant Center.
No morning skate today for the Firebirds. CV was at Hershey Lodge for most of the week but had to move to another hotel outside of town, 40+ minutes away. It’s a difficult time to find places to stay out here being such a summer destination for many. @KESQ #Firebirds #CalderCup
— Blake Arthur (@BlakeArthur24) June 17, 2023
AHL.com’s Patrick Williams stressed that the snafu was due to how busy an area Hershey is during the summer months and not out of arrogance that the Firebirds thought they’d sweep the series. The Calder Cup Finals are now tied two games apiece after Hershey won Games Three and Four at home.
Just to dispel talk that was going around Hershey, the Firebirds did have to change hotels, but *not* because they had planned on this series being a sweep.
Hershey is a major resort area, and this is a weekend in June. Hotels are packed and have been booked for weeks.
— PATRICK WILLIAMS (@pwilliamsAHL) June 17, 2023
But the hotel change, while a minor inconvenience, is just more weight Coachella Valley will have to carry into a sold out Giant Center Saturday night — the final game of hockey in Hershey this season.
Here’s the game preview from Hershey Bears’ PR:
CALDER CUP FINALS GAME 5 PREVIEW: BEARS VS. FIREBIRDS, 7 P.M.
Hershey looks to take 3-2 series lead in final home game of playoffs
(Hershey, PA – June 17, 2023) – The Hershey Bears continue the 2023 playoffs, presented by Penn State Health, as they take the ice tonight for Game 5 of the 2023 Calder Cup Finals against the Coachella Valley Firebirds at GIANT Center. Hershey looks to take its first lead in the series tonight with the best-of-seven matchup tied at two games apiece, in what will be its final game of the season on home ice.
#2 Hershey Bears (12-5) vs. #2 Coachella Valley Firebirds (14-9)
June 17, 2023 | 7 p.m. | Calder Cup Finals – Game 5 | Series tied, 2-2 | GIANT Center
Referees: Cody Beach (#45), Carter Sandlak (#47)
Linespersons: Ryan Jackson (#84), Joseph Mahon (#89)
Party on the Plaza!
It’s time to party, Bear Nation! Join us ahead of tonight’s Calder Cup Finals home game at GIANT Center for a pre-game Party on the Plaza, set to start at 3 p.m., featuring food, drinks, music, games and more fun.
Calder Cup Finals Rally Towel Night (all fans)
Tonight’s game is SOLD OUT; Season Ticket Holders who have purchased a Playoff Package: please use Round 5, Home Game 3 ticket(s) for tonight.
LAST TIME OUT:
The Bears and Firebirds met for Game 4 on Thursday, with Mike Vecchione opening the scoring at 4:27 of the first period when he fired Mason Morelli’s rebound past Joey Daccord for his third of the postseason. Austin Poganski tied the game at 1-1 at 12:41 with a shot that beat Hunter Shepard from the right side. Vecchione scored his second of the night 3:03 into the second period when Logan Day sent a cross-ice pass from the right side to Vecchione at the bottom of the left circle, who beat a sliding Daccord. Ethen Frank scored the eventual game-winner at 14:24 for his second of the playoffs, and his second in as many games. Jesper Froden attempted to close the gap for Coachella Valley with a goal at 7:01 of the third period, but the Bears held on to secure the win to tie the series.
DAY CONTINUES POSTSEASON CLIMB:
With an assist in Game 4, Logan Day now leads Hershey’s blue line in the 2023 playoffs with 12 points (3g, 9a), and is tied for second among AHL defensemen with Milwaukee’s Marc Del Gaizo. It has been a breakout postseason for the Endicott College alumnus, who has now matched his point output from the regular season (0g, 12a) in 20 fewer games. Day’s playoff run with Hershey has him tied with several former players for the 10th-most points by a Bears defenseman in a single playoff year; his 12 points are tied with Aaron Ness’ performance in the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs for the second-most points by an American-born Bears defenseman, trailing only Rich Brennan’s 18-point (2g, 16a) effort on the 1997 championship squad.
RALLY THE TROOPS:
After dropping the opening two games of the 2023 Calder Cup Finals, the Bears rallied with wins in Games 3 and 4 to level the series at two games apiece, becoming just the ninth team in the history of the Calder Cup Finals to tie the series at 2-2 after trailing 2-0. With the series now tied 2-2, Hershey will look to achieve a rare feat – only three teams have rallied from a two-games-to-none series deficit in the best-of-seven championship series and went on to hoist the Calder Cup: the 1972 Nova Scotia Voyageurs (won series 4-2), 1991 Springfield Indians (won series 4-2), and 2010 Hershey Bears (won series 4-2).
NESS TO HIT 50TH PLAYOFF GAME WITH HERSHEY:
Bears defenseman Aaron Ness is poised to skate in his 50th career playoff game with Hershey tonight in Game 5. The veteran blue liner is making his fourth postseason appearance with the Bears after first lacing up the skates during the 2016 playoff run, which resulted in an Eastern Conference championship. Ness’ 50th game will tie him with Ellard O’Brien for 27th on the franchise’s all-time playoff games played list.
Tonight’s game marks the latest date in a season that the Bears have played…Aliaksei Protas is tied for second on the Bears in scoring with 12 points (5g, 7a), but has not recorded a point in his last five games, dating back to Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals…Connor McMichael leads the Bears and is 10th in the playoffs with 39 shots on goal…Joe Snively is tied for second in the playoffs with five power-play assists…Bears captain Dylan McIlrath leads the entire postseason with 44 penalty minutes…Hershey limited Coachella Valley to its lowest first period shot totals during the playoffs with only four shots on goal during the opening frame of Game 4, and the Firebirds’ 21 shots on goal for the game matched its lowest total of the postseason…Hunter Shepard’s 19 saves in Game 4 tied his fewest needed for a victory in the playoffs, matching a 19-for-20 performance in Game 2 of the Atlantic Division Semifinals at Charlotte on April 29…Shepard’s victory in Game 4 also gave him his 12th career playoff win with Hershey, allowing him to pass Justin Peters for sole possession of third on the franchise list, behind only Michal Neuvirth (30) and Frederic Cassivi (37)…Coachella Valley’s Shane Wright has a three-game assist streak (3a)…The Bears are 3-1 on Saturdays during the playoffs.
Headline photo: Brandon McFadden
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