BRYAN WILSON – 05.15.2023
That was a marathon… a war of attrition.
It was a heartbreaking finish for the Wranglers on Monday night, who fell 3-2 to the Firebirds in triple overtime in Game 3 in Coachella Valley.
Adam Klapka scored his fourth goal of the playoffs and is tied for the team lead in postseason goals with Jakob Pelletier, who also lit the lamp for the Wranglers in the game. Matthew Phillips (1g,6a) extended his point streak to six games with an assist on Monday night.
Dustin Wolf turned aside 48 shots between the pipes for Calgary.
CGY Goal Scorers – Adam Klapka – Jakob Pelletier
It was an electric atmosphere at Acrisure Arena to start the game, but the Wranglers did what they could to take the crowd out of it early.
After outshooting the Firebirds in the early going, the Wranglers finally got that all important first goal on the road, courtesy of the powerplay.
Midway through the advantage, Walker Duehr had the puck on his stick on the half wall and spotted Klapka backdoor, firing a slap-pass across the seam. Klapka kept his stick on the ice and redirected the puck into the back of the net. 1-0.
Later, after a big pad save from Wolf, Matthew Phillips picked up the rebound at the side of the Wranglers net and spotted a streaking Pelletier up the middle. He walked in on a breakaway, sliding a backhand shot through the legs of Joey Daccord to extend the lead.
2-0 at the break.
The Wranglers were shorthanded to start the 2nd Period but were able to kill off the penalty.
However, Coachella Valley would eventually cut into the lead at the 5:28 mark of the period. Max McCormick worked the puck up the wall to the blueline, where Gustav Olofsson was waiting, sending a hard one-timer through a maze of bodies and into the back of the net.
2-1 after 40 minutes.
The Firebirds started to pour on the pressure, in search of the equalizer in the third period, and they would get their chance on the powerplay. After the Wranglers took a goaltender inference penalty early in the period, the Firebirds capitalized.
At the 2:59 mark, Ryker Evans fired a shot from the blueline that was redirected by Max McCormick, who tied the game with his seventh goal of the playoffs.
It remained 2-2 at the end of regulation, so overtime would be required, but not just one.
The Wranglers played a solid first overtime period. They did everything they could to wrap up the game with a win, outshooting the Firebirds 19-3 in the initial extra frame. Daccord was the difference maker, keeping his team in the game – he ultimately made 60 saves between the pipes.
A second overtime solved nothing, so the game went into triple OT, where both teams desperately tried to end it. Each team had nine shots on net when, at the 11:22 mark of the frame, Evans picked up the puck in the Wranglers’ zone and ripped a shot through traffic that found it’s way into the top of the net to win it for Coachella Valley.
3-2 the final.
Now trailing the best-of-five series 2-1, the Wranglers will need to win back-to-back games on the road to keep their Calder Cup hopes alive. Game 4 goes on Wednesday night. Puck drop is 8pm MST.