The Coachella Valley Firebirds will seek their second victory over the Henderson Silver Knights in two nights and fourth in four games Friday evening at Acrisure Arena.
The Firebirds defeated the Silver Knights, 3-2, in a shootout Thursday night at Henderson, Nevada, with captain Max McCormick scoring the game-winning goal in his 500th professional game.
Both teams’ shooters failed to score in each of their first two shots of the shootout. Brendan Brisson scored for Henderson in the third round, with Andrew Poturalski answering for the Firebirds, sending the shootout into its sudden-death phase.
Firebirds goaltender Christopher Gibson stopped each of the Silver Knights’ next two penalty shots. McCormick put a shot from between the faceoff circles past Laurent Brossoit to give the Firebirds their second consecutive shootout victory over Henderson.
The Silver Knights tied the score with two minutes, 43 seconds left in regulation when Spencer Foo redirected a pass from Sheldon Rempal past Gibson for his third goal of the season.
Henderson began the five-minute overtime on a two-minute power-play because McCormick and Firebirds defenseman Matt Tennyson were assessed roughing penalties as regulation ended, as did Silver Knights center Connor Ford.
The Firebirds killed the penalty, holding Henderson to one shot.
The Silver Knights took the other two shots of the overtime, which Gibson also stopped, sending the game into the shootout.
Overtime in the American Hockey League is customarily played with just three skaters per team, two fewer than normal. However, when there is a penalty, the non-penalized team gets an additional skater.
The Firebirds opened the scoring 7:38 into the first period when Tye Kartye found Jesper Froden sneaking down the slot and put a shot past Brossoit for his team-leading 14th goal of the season, just before being hit by Henderson defenseman Brayden Pachal.
The goal came nine seconds after Silver Knights right wing Sheldon Rempal’s slashing penalty expired and ended Brossoit’s 150:02 shutout streak over four games.
The Silver Knights (11-16-0-2) tied the score at 10:26 of the first period on left wing Gage Quinney’s 10th goal of the season.
The Firebirds (16-6-3-0) regained the lead 1:55 into the second period when defenseman Brogan Rafferty scored from just inside the blue line.
The Firebirds, the Seattle Kraken’s AHL affiliate, were outshot, 33-32, in front of a crowd announced at 4,598 at Dollar Loan Center.
The Firebirds were scoreless on all three of their power-play opportunities, extending their streak of scoreless power-play opportunities to 10 over three games. The Firebirds killed off all four of power-play opportunities for Henderson, the Vegas Golden Knights’ AHL affiliate.
Gibson (4-2-2-0) made 31 saves, improving to 4-0-2-0 in his last six decisions. Brossoit (5-6-0-1) made 30 saves, including stopping all of the Firebirds’ final 20 shots.
There were two fights in the first period. Firebirds center Ian McKinnon and Silver Knights right wing Jermaine Loewen fought at 4:51 and Firebirds right wing John Hayden and Pachal at 12:58. All four players received five-minute major penalties.
The fight was Pachal’s fifth in 27 games this season, including three in his last five; Loewen’s fourth in 22 games; Hayden’s third in 25; and McKinnon’s first in nine games.
The Firebirds will conduct a Teddy Bear Toss Friday. Fans are encouraged to bring as many teddy bears or stuffed animals as they can to the game and throw them onto the ice after the first Firebirds’ goal.
All bears and other stuffed animals will be donated to Toys For Tots and local police and fire departments for distribution across the Coachella Valley, Gina Rotolo, the Firebirds’ vice president marketing & communications, told City News Service.
Teddy Bear Tosses are a Christmastime staple of minor and junior hockey, originated by Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League in 1993. The record is 52,341 stuffed animals at a Jan. 22, 2022, Hershey Bears AHL game.