It’s been all about home cooking in the Calder Cup Finals.
The Seattle Kraken AHL affiliate Coachella Valley Firebirds are now left with a “best of three” scenario after the Hershey Bears went wire to wire and got 19 saves out of goaltender Hunter Shepard, in Hershey’s 3-2 victory before a sellout crowd at Giant Center on Thursday.
Assured a game six back in Coachella Valley, where the Cup will be awarded regardless of who wins (game seven will also be held in the California desert, if necessary), the series has delivered wins to the home team in all of the first four games.
Mike Vecchione scored twice for the Washington Capitals affiliate, including the game winner, while blue chip prospect Shane Wright earned an assist for the Firebirds, giving him a three-game point streak in the Calder Cup Finals.
Vecchione tucked a loose puck past Joey Daccord for a 1-0 lead just 4:27 into the game, followed by Wright’s gorgeous cross-ice pass to Austin Poganski to tie the score with 7:19 left in the period.
Vecchione slammed a one-timer past Daccord for a 2-1 lead at 3:03 into the second period, and with 5:36 left, Ethen Frank wired a snap shot for a two goal lead.
Jesper Froden walked out from behind the net to cut the deficit at 7:01 of the third period, and the Firebirds nearly rallied with an extra attacker. But Hershey defenseman Lucas Johansen threw his body into a pass that would have opened up a gaping net, and the Firebirds were held at bay the rest of the way.
Coachella Valley, after outscoring Hershey 9-0 in the first two games of the series, have fallen to a pair of one-goal losses.
Game five is Saturday in Hershey, 4pm PT (950 AM KJR).