So remember when I said the Firebirds were going to have a hard time versus the Colorado Eagles?
Well, I wasn’t kidding. Colorado made this as difficult as it could be, as after coming up with a win in Game 1, the Eagles took Games 2 and 3, forcing the Firebirds to dig deep in order to win in Game 5 in convincing fashion!
A note on the AHL Playoff Format, before we go anywhere:
As we previously discussed, the AHL has a different playoff format to the NHL’s where the “Best of 7” is king. For one thing, it’s a little longer, and for the early rounds it’s all about “Best of 3”, and in the second/third round, it’s all about “Best of 5”.
It’s a good thing, too. Because Coachella needed all 5 to get the job done.
How the Firebirds did it:
Splitting the series early before going home:
The Firebirds couldn’t afford a loss early on against Colorado, and showed up to the Budweiser Events Center with the precise goal to drop a train on the Eagles; getting 6 goals from 5 players, including Eddie Wittchow, who graces this article’s featured photo!
A series saving shorthanded goal by Alex True:
Getting stuck in a 3-3 game can make any move feel like the most important thing you do before the safety valve of tension is let loose. So imagine how much of a relief it is to get a shorty in the playoffs. When the game is almost over.
Such is the case for “Mustache Boy” Alex True, who got a late short-handed tally in the final minutes of Game 4, and nearly single-handedly punched the Firebirds’ ticket to survival:
The Law Firm of McKenna & McCormack in Game 5:
Coachella came into Game 5 having just played and won a game by the skin of their teeth. They needed help to not just put them away, but also come up huge and win a game convincingly. Thankfully, they knew just who to call: Jeremy McKenna, and Max McCormick, both of whom doubled up in goals on this most pivotal victory for the Firebirds!
The Pacific Division finals are next, and given that the Abbotsford Canucks just stole a game from the Calgary Wranglers the Firebirds are gonna have to wait a little bit to know who their opponent is. Whoever wins game 5 in that series is the opponent: Calgary, or Abbotsford.
Abbotsford was a tough beat on any night versus CV, as neither side had an edge in the season series: both sides mostly traded lopsided wins for four games and then never saw each other after early November. The Wranglers meanwhile were an issue for the Firebirds all season; playing them 8 times…and winning four of them.
Either team is a real tough out as we move into the deeper part of the playoffs…and they only get tougher from here. Considering their gutsy performance in this series however, I think we can safely say that whoever Coachella Valley draws?
The Firebirds are ready for them.
UPDATE: Abbotsford blew it in the worst way in Game 4. Coachella Valley is playing the Calgary Wranglers for the Pacific Division Championship!
We at DJLR wish them luck as they go for the division championship!