Tye Kartye scored twice to continue a surging postseason and the Coachella Valley Firebirds sunk the Milwaukee Admirals in a 4-3 victory on Monday night before a sellout crowd at Acrisure Arena. Coachella Valley won the Conference Final series, 4-2, and will face the Hershey Bears in the Calder Cup Final.
Originally an undrafted free agent who won the AHL's top rookie honors this season with the Dudley Garrett Memorial Award, Kartye has five goals in 11 postseason games for the Kraken AHL affiliate, coming off a revealing 10-game Stanley Cup Playoff stint where he scored three goals, including one in his NHL debut during a seven-game knockout of the Colorado Avalanche in the opening round.
This time, with the Kraken season over, Kartye has been summoned back to Coachella Valley and his first star effort delivered the first Calder Cup Final appearance by an AHL expansion team in 13 years, last achieved by the Texas Stars in 2010.
His tuck on a John Hayden rebound at six minutes of the second period put the Firebirds up 3-1, and then his snap shot on a third period power play goal put the game out of reach. Alexander True and Kraken blueline prospect Ryker Evans put Coachella Valley up 2-0 by the end of the first period, while Michael McCarron, Egor Afanasyev, and Kiefer Sherwood scored for the Nashville Predators affiliate.
Joey Daccord, third star of the game, turned in a 29 save effort and is 12-7 in the postseason with a .924 save percentage.
The Firebirds, led by head coach Dan Bylsma, will face Hershey in a best-of-seven series opening Thursday in the California desert and follows a 2-3-2 format, sizing up the oldest team in the AHL (Hershey) against the newest team.
The Bears, the primary development affiliate of the Washington Capitals, eliminated the Rochester Americans in the Eastern Conference Final.