First Round, Game One: Tucson Roadrunners (1) at Coachella Valley Firebirds (5)
FIREBIRDS LEAD SERIES 1-0
SOG: TUC (46) – CV (27)
PP: TUC (0/2) – CV (2/6)
TUCSON SCORING: Vlad Kolyachonok (1)
COACHELLA VALLEY SCORING: Max McCormick (1 PP, 2 PP), Alexander True (1), Kole Lind (1), Carsen Twarynski (1 EN)
ROADRUNNERS DROP GAME ONE 5-1 AT ACRISURE ARENA, FIREBIRDS LEAD SERIES 1-0
Tucson, Arizona – The Tucson Roadrunners opened the First Round of the 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs Wednesday night, falling to the Coachella Valley Firebirds by a score of 5-1. The Firebirds jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the opening 9:26 of the contest and tallied a pair of power-play goals on the night to take a 1-0 advantage in the best-of-three series. Defenseman Vlad Kolyachonok lit the lamp for Tucson late in the third period, as the Roadrunners outshot Coachella Valley 46 to 27 and will look to stave off elimination in Game Two from Palm Desert on Friday at 7:00 p.m. MST.
YA GOTTA SEE IT
Roadrunners defenseman Vlad Kolyachonok put Tucson on the board in Wednesday’s Playoff Opener against the Coachella Valley Firebirds. The goal came in the final 1:17 of regulation with assists from forwards Curtis Douglas and Ben McCartney. The 21-year-old previously scored the first goal of the 2021-2022 season for the Roadrunners with an overtime game-winner against the Stockton Heat, as four of his six career AHL goals have come in the third period or later.
DON’T OVERLOOK IT
SHOTS TELL A DIFFERENT STORY – The Roadrunners outshot the Firebirds 46 to 27 in Game One of the best-of-three series on Wednesday, setting a new season high for shots in a game against the AHL affiliate of the Seattle Kraken. Tucson outshot Coachella Valley in each individual period while never recording less than 14 shots in a single frame. The performance kept up a trend from the end of the regular season that saw the Roadrunners record at least 36 shots on goal in four of their final five outings before the start of the Playoffs.
PHOTO OF THE GAME
Goaltender Ivan Prosvetov returned to the Roadrunners crease on Wednesday for the first time since March 4 to start Game One of the Calder Cup Playoffs for Tucson. After Coachella Valley jumped out to an early lead, Prosvetov held the Firebirds to just one goal while in net over the final 50:34 of regulation with 22 total saves on the night. Prosvetov led all goalies in the eight-game regular season series between Tucson and Coachella Valley with a .917 save percentage across four outings, and entered the Playoffs with standings points in each of his final five regular season appearances in the AHL.
THEY SAID IT
“We have to clean up some stuff on offense and be more dangerous on defense. Discipline is the most important thing in the playoffs. Ivan [Prosvetov] did everything he could to keep us in it, and we will all be better on Friday.”Roadrunners Defenseman Vlad Kolyachonok on takeaways from Tucson’s Game One loss to the Firebirds on Wednesday. The Roadrunners will need to win on the road Friday to avoid elimination and force a decisive Game Three on Sunday.
The Firebirds opened Game One with a quick power-play goal exactly one minute into the contest, which was scored by forward Max McCormick after Tucson was called for having too many men on the ice with 36 seconds gone by in the first period. Coachella Valley extended their early lead to 3-0 after a pair of tallies 1:37 apart before the midway point of the opening frame, marking the first five-on-five goals of the series. The final 10:34 of the period was scoreless, as the Roadrunners outshot the Firebirds 16 to eight through the opening 20 minutes but trailed 3-0 entering the second period. Coachella Valley made it a 4-0 game with 8:03 gone by in the middle frame, as Max McCormick scored his second power-play goal of the game. Tucson continued to outshoot the Firebirds for the second-straight period by a count of 14 to nine, but Coachella Valley netminder and Arizona State University product Joey Daccord denied all 30 shots faced through the opening 40 minutes of play. The Roadrunners looked to mount a comeback in the third period, but were limited by three consecutive trips to the penalty-kill in the frame. The Firebirds added an empty-net tally with 3:41 still to play, but were held scoreless while Tucson had goaltender Ivan Prosvetov in between the pipes for the final 31:57 of regulation. A late goal by Roadrunners defenseman Vlad Kolyachonok with 1:17 left in the third period avoided the shutout, as Coachella Valley came away with a 5-1 victory on home ice in their first ever playoff game. Tucson will look to build off of outshooting the Firebirds by an overall count of 46 to 27, going four-for-four against Coachella Valley’s final four man-advantages, and scoring the last goal of Wednesday’s game when these two teams go at it again on Friday night at the Acrisure Arena.
(Photo Credits: Coachella Valley Firebirds)