Four lessons from the 2-3 defeat in the first game


In a close game, the Coachella Valley Firebirds handed the Ontario Reign their first postseason loss with a 3-2 win.

Target breakdown

First period:

ONT: Andre Lee (4), ASST: Taylor Ward (4), Samuel Helenius (1)

CV: Max McCormick (4), ASST: Andrew Poturalski (4), Gustav Olofsson (3)

CV: Devin Shore (4), ASST: Connor Carrick (3), Marian Studenic (2)

Second period:

CV: Jimmy Schuldt (1), ASST: Logan Morrison (3), Jacob Melanson (2)

Third period:

ONT: PP Samuel Fagemo (2), ASST: TJ Tynan (4), Akil Thomas (3)



ONT: 2

CV: 3


ONT: 31

CV: 15

Power games:

ONT: 1/3

CV: 0/2

Here are the four takeaways from Wednesday's 3-2 loss:

Andre Lee scores again

Andre Lee finished the regular season with flying colors after returning from a lower leg injury and carried that into the playoffs. The Lee-Helenius-Ward line was one of the Reign's better lines when it came to receiving offensive contributions. They struck first after Ward sent a good shot into the corner. Ward caused a turnover and found Lee in the left circle, who buried a wrist shot from Chris Driedger. The goal was Lee's fourth in six playoff games.

Rapid fire

The Firebirds can strike quickly and when they do, there can be a bit of a riot. The Reign noticed this in the last ten minutes of the first frame. Max McCormick, the Firebirds' captain, tied the game at one after his shot from the high slot changed direction and was palmed by Erik Portillo.

Devin Shore gave the Firebirds a 2-1 lead, redirecting a shot from Connor Carrick in front of a screened Portillo 62 seconds later after the Firebirds had an extended shift in the Reign zone. This sequence made the difference in the game.

The last six were solid

One of my concerns going into this series was how the Reign's strong bottom six would play against an experienced Firebirds team with speed in transition. I thought one of Francesco Pinelli or Martin Chromiak would move into the lineup to match the speed and skill of Coachella Valley. Marco Sturm had the same line-up and the bottom six sometimes played better than the top six.

The Reign saw some strong changes in the offensive zone from the bottom six of the lineup throughout the game, but will also need the top six to string some together. Whenever the government needed momentum, Sturm moved to the third or fourth line. I don't think there will be a change in the bottom six lineup after their strong game last night, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Sturm do so if he wants to match the speed and skill of the Firebirds. I guess we'll have to wait.

First loss of the playoffs

The Reign suffered their first loss after starting the playoffs 5-0. Teams will never go undefeated in the playoffs because it is impossible to beat everyone. It just won't happen. At some point a team loses a game and then the time for dominance has come. Even with a solid performance where they outscored the Firebirds 31-15, I don't think they had a strong 60 minutes. They were good in the sprints, but not the whole game. Now, after their first loss and a must-win game to avoid being on the brink of elimination in game three, we'll see how they bounce back by facing adversity for the first time in these playoffs.


*Samuel Fagemo scored his second goal of the playoffs. It was also his first power play goal of the playoffs.

*Akil Thomas and Fagemo each recorded five shots on goal, leading all field players in the game.

*Jimmy Schuldt's goal in the second period was the deciding factor.

*Kevin Connauton missed last night's game. Cole Krygier was added to the lineup and assigned to the third defensive pair, while Kim Nousiainen moved to the second pair in Connauton's place. According to Josh Schaefer and Jared Shafran's show, Connauton is listed as daily. We'll see if he's back in the lineup for the second game

*Jacob Ingham acted as reserve goalkeeper.

*The Firebirds were limited to 15 shots on goal. They led the league in the regular season, averaging about 35 plays per game.

NEXT: The Ontario Reign and Coachella Valley Firebirds are back for game two on Friday at 7:00 p.m. PST. The game can be seen on AHLTV.

Photo credit: Mike Zitek/Coachella Valley Firebirds