Wranglers force decisive game with shutout victory over Firebirds
It’s going the distance.
Dustin Wolf stopped all 27 shots he faced in goal, and Cole Schwindt scored the only goal of the game as the Calgary Wranglers beat the Coachella Valley Firebirds 1-0 on Wednesday to tie their AHL Pacific Division final playoff series at two a piece and force a decisive Game 5.
Wolf said he and his teammates talked before the game about everyone putting in a complete effort to stave off elimination.
“We wanted to sell out for everybody, where everybody is contributing for each other, blocking shots, making plays when needed — that’s exactly what the group did tonight,” Wolf said. “It was a complete effort from every single guy on the ice, and obviously, I’m super happy to get that one.”
It was a bounce-back effort by the Wranglers, who lost a triple-overtime affair 3-2 two nights earlier at Acisure Arena in Palm Springs, Calif., to go down in the five-game series.
The top two clubs in the Pacific Division, who finished three points apart in the regular-season standings with the Wranglers claiming first place, had split the first two games at Calgary’s Saddledome.
Game 5 is slated to be played Friday in Palm Springs.
📹 Schwindt snipes! pic.twitter.com/F93JeR2sdG
— y- Calgary Wranglers (@AHLWranglers) May 18, 2023
Schwindt’s goal came 7:20 into the second period on the power play on a shot from the slot that sailed past outstretched goalie Joey Daccord, the Firebirds’ Game 3 OT hero who turned aside 31 of 32 Wranglers shots in Wednesday night’s loss before 7,758 fans.
That led to an intense third period, with the Firebirds pressing for a tying goal and the Wranglers trying to hold them off with their season on the line.
“Before the start of the series, we knew it was going to be a tight one,” Wranglers head coach Mitch Love said after the game. “If you’re a fan, this is probably what you’d want … Our goalie was good, both goalies were good (on Wednesday). We were composed. I thought we had some good composure to our game.
“It got a little erratic in the third period, which you’d expect. The team on the other side is trying to close you out, and they’ve got some dangerous weapons over there, so they’re going to come. I thought we sat back a bit, but we found a way, which was the most important part of the game.”