Wranglers Playoff Recap: Calgary falls behind in series in heartbreaking triple overtime loss
Photo credit:Mike Zitek/Coachella Valley Firebirds
6 months ago
The Calgary Wranglers continued their third round playoff series against the Coachella Valley Firebirds with the start of visiting side of the series. They were the only AHL action on Monday night after splitting the first two home games the previous week. In a weird combination of events, this game turned into the longest game played by a Flames AHL team with it being decided in triple overtime. On top of that, it felt like a deja vu game as it was played a year after Jake Oettinger turned away 64 shots in the Flames’ playoff game against the Stars. Unfortunately, things didn’t go Calgary’s way and they fell 3-2 in triple overtime.
Game at a glance
No lineup changes were made going into game three. The winning lineup from game two earned their place in this game and got some momentum generated early. They got four shots on goal before the Firebirds could put anything on the Wranglers’ net and their early looks turned into the opening goal 8:25 into the game.
Adam Klapka was out for a power play shift and parked himself right in front of Coachella Valley goalie, Joey Daccord’s crease and tipped in a shot from Walker Duehr and scored the first goal of the game. Jeremie Poirier also assisted to pick up his sixth assist of the postseason.
With this goal, Klapka took the lead in team postseason goals but someone who was on his heels didn’t let him keep that lead for long. That player was Jakob Pelletier. Pelletier got himself up to four goals in the postseason and tied for the team lead with a goal 15:23 into the first period. Matthew Phillips sprung Pelletier and he went into the Firebirds zone on a breakaway. He outskated his two opponents up on a rush with him and scored five hole.
The Wranglers finished up a solid first period ahead 2-0 and with a 15-8 edge in shots. In the second, the Firebirds were looking to put on a show for their home crowd and close the gap between the visiting Wranglers. They lit the lamp for the first time of the night at 5:28 into the second period with a goal by Gustav Olofsson.
Wolf was beaten by a slapshot taken from the blue line and the Firebirds were within one. This period then turned into a back and forth penalty war starting with Walker Duehr. Both sides got three minor penalties each and that about took this period right until the buzzer.
After 40 complete minutes of play, the Wranglers lead 2-1 but Coachella Valley outshot Calgary 9-7 in the second. In the third, the Firebirds continued their comeback effort with a power play goal early in the period. Max McCormick scored off a redirect 2:59 into the third and tied the game up at two.
This penalty kill burned the Wranglers and they almost got burned again with a late penalty called on Ilya Solovyov in the last 2:12 of regulation. The Wranglers killed off this penalty and Wolf stopped 13/14 Firebirds shots to keep the Wranglers in this game.
At the end of regulation, the 2-2 score remained and this game would need to be decided in overtime.
In overtime, the Wranglers were absolutely peppering shots on Daccord and despite their best efforts, nothing could get past him. He stopped a whopping 19 shots in overtime with a handful of high-danger scoring chances against him. Matthew Phillips was the clutch player in the dying minutes and overtime scenarios in the regular season and he very well could have scored on either one of his two standout chances.
Joey Daccord stopped all 19 Calgary shots they put up in overtime in an exceptional effort. This frame was Calgary’s best chance of winning this game. Wolf only saw three shots and turned them all away. They took another intermission and went to double overtime.
Double overtime felt a change in pace and demeanour. The fatigue was obviously kicking in and the scoring chances were feeling few and far between. Mitch Love was being very selective on who was going out on the ice and kept it to mostly two to three main lines. Emilio Pettersen and Adam Klapka weren’t getting much ice time in any of the extra frames. In double overtime, shots were an even 7-7 and no change in score.
These two would take another intermission break and head to triple OT. Both teams were very obviously exhausted and trying to muster up any energy they could to try and end this one. It was more a goaltending duel than anything once they got out of regulation.
More noticeably in the third overtime frame, the room for playmakers was opening up. Whatever the players were drinking or eating between periods gave them a bit of a second wind and the motivation to find the game-winner.
Once things got going in the third overtime, the Wranglers officially exceeded the record for the longest-played AHL game for a Flames affiliate.
They’d play a total of 51:22 overtime minutes when a battle between Nick DeSimone and a screening Firebirds player in front of Calgary’s net blocked Dustin Wolf’s view. DeSimone made contact with his goaltender and the shot ended up in the back of the net. Wolf didn’t seem to get a good look at it at all.
Ryker Evans was the triple overtime hero and the Firebirds made it worthwhile for the fans that could stick this game out until the end. The Wranglers suffered a heartbreaking defeat and put themselves in a possible elimination scenario with the next two games being must-wins and their season on the line in less than 48 hours. Shots in game three ended 62-51 for Calgary.
It was a long Monday night of hockey and the next one isn’t too far away. Coachella Valley and Calgary face off again on Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m. Game four will still be played in Palm Springs, CA and it’s a do-or-die scenario for Calgary. They have to win Wednesday to have a shot at winning the series on Friday night.
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