Firebirds fall in second game at Acrisure Arena as Tucson wins 3-2
The second Coachella Valley Firebirds game at Acrisure Arena was much more about hockey and much less about partying.
Gone Tuesday night were the flame-throwing theatrics during player introductions that were the signature moment of Sunday’s debut performance. Fewer big wigs and dignitaries were present. The crowd, which in total was about 70% capacity, was loud and lively. But the atmosphere was not quite so supercharged.
The other thing missing tonight was a Firebirds win. Tucson scored a putback with 1.2 seconds left in the second period to take a 3-2 lead, and that’s how it ended as the Roadrunners earned the one-goal win.
The Firebirds fell to 15-6-3 on the season, while the Roadrunners improved to 13-9-4.
Kole Lind and Andrew Poturalski had the Firebirds’ goals, but it was the special teams — the power play and the penalty kill — that let them down in this one.
Coachella Valley is one of the best power play units in the entire American Hockey League and had three such goals in Sunday’s Acrisure opener, but they went 0-for Tuesday, including a long 5-on-3 advantage in the second period that did not produce goals.
Meanwhile, the Roadrunners’ three goals came on the power play, as the Firebirds penalty unit wasn’t sharp either.
One thing Tuesday night’s crowd got to see that Sunday night didn’t was the first good old-fashioned hockey game at Acrisure Arena, which was met with roars of approval.
Late in the first period, a dangerous kneeing penalty by Tucson’s Hudson Elyniuk drew the ire of the Firebirds, and Carsen Twarynski jumped in and shoved Elyniuk. The two got into a brawl and one more player from each team jumped in. The quartet pushed and wrestled, slamming each other into the boards as gloves and sticks were left on the ice. It never devolved into punches being thrown, but it provided a good 30 seconds of entertainment.
1-0 Tucson: Michael Carcone of the Roadrunners scored the first goal of the night, finding himself all alone on the power play as the puck cycled around.
1-1: The Firebirds trailed for just nine seconds when Kole Lind responded at right back, took a pass from Peetro Seppala from the restart and whistled one into the top left corner of the goal to quickly tie the game at 1-1. Lind punctured his goal by flapping his wings, a move which was then imitated by many in the audience. Perhaps it is the start of a goal tradition for Lind.
2-1 Tucson: Another power play goal for the Roadrunners. A shot on Daccord was loose in front of the net, and when the players hacked away at it, Tucson’s Laurent Dauphin snuck it into the net.
2-2: The most beautiful goal of the night was a beauty by Andrew Poturalski, his seventh of the year. He was sent into the open by a lovely cross-ice pass by Peetro Seppala and lasered a shot past the Roadrunners’ goalie from the faceoff circle. Twarynski also had an assist on the play.
3-2: This one hurt. Poturalski took a penalty with 5.1 seconds left in the period and it looked like the Roadrunners would start the third period with a long power play, but instead they were able to shoot one past Joey Daccord right off the restart with 1.2 seconds left. It was again Carcone with the goal, his 15th of the year.
Free tour: Starting defenseman Brogan Rafferty wasn’t the only Rafferty on the ice Tuesday night. As the Zamboni leveled the ice before the puck was dropped during the pregame activity, Brogan’s grandfather took a ride, sat in the sidecar and waved to the crowd while RJ Schultz, the team’s ice facilities manager, was the pilot. His ID tag read “Grandpa Raff”.
May the four be with you: The biggest surprise was that the Firebirds didn’t score four goals, in their previous five games against the Roadrunners the scores were 4-1, 4-3, 4-3, 4-3 (all wins by the Firebirds) and a 7th -2 loss. Unfortunately, four goals would have been quite useful in this one.
Thursday evening: The Firebirds hit the road Thursday to play in Henderson, Nevada against the Silver Nights. Then on Friday they return to Acrisure Arena to host Silver Nights. Friday’s game will include a Teddy Bear toss. Bring a teddy bear or two and throw them on the ice when the Firebirds score their first goal. They will be collected and given to families in need.