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2023 Calder Cup Playoffs

Firebirds Pinned by Wranglers, Fall in Game Two

Firebirds Pinned by Wranglers, Fall in Game Two

CALGARY – The Scotiabank Saddledome has previously been home to champion chip fighting. Appearances from WWE and UFC have shown some fight in this barn, but Friday’s game was a smackdown in the heavyweight division. The classic story, each fighter weighing in at over 100 points. In a 3-2 final, the knockout blow came with a 1-2 punch.

To be a fighter, you must be able to dodge the punches and out-slip your opponent. Connor Zary knows this all too well, kicking off the scoring in the opening frame. As he glided through the center, he dipped and slid past the Firebirds, scoring possibly the best goal so far in these playoffs. 

As much as you may deliver a blow, you have to be able to block the next one. The Firebirds are a scrappy fighter who likes to hang around and pick up what you didn’t put away cleanly. That was part of their response late in the first period, scoring on the rebound, with Kole Lind scoring his seventh postseason goal. 

Those two goals, in short succession, came right before the bell. In round one, the Wranglers were dominant, putting their best fighting foot forward, knowing things didn’t go their way in the game prior. 

As long as there was gas in the tank, they had a great pace, which proved correct to start.

Coming out of the gate with a flying knee kick or rebound goal, the Wranglers opened the scoring in the second. Jérémie Poirier took the inital shot, Jakob Pelletier found the shot off the rebound to beat Joey Daccord.

With the shot clock leaning farther towards the Firebirds through 40, I continued to find it hard to discount the play of the Wranglers. Calgary has this golden glove mentality, meaning they can get you out with one punch. The forwards knew how to break in and get off good-quality shots.

This was the status quo in the third period as well.

What about the sneak attack? While I don’t think it’s an official fighting move, it was a move that the Wranglers pulled off. The shot came from Kristians Rubins, but Brett Sutter got the tip in the slot. With so much traffic in the slot, there was no way Daccord was spotting that.

Near the midway point of the third period, Victor Olofsson knotted the game at 3-2 with a simple shot walking down main street (or the middle of the ring, if you may). To this point, Dustin Wolf gave the Wrangles some serious chances to stay in the game, but the goal felt like a dent in the armor of a goaltender trying to rebound from being pulled the night before.

As the game bled down, it became increasingly clear that maybe it was a 1-2 punch for the Wranglers. You see, Wolf may have well been one of the main reasons Calgary could keep it the way it was.

As for the top? Well, they didn’t just throw anything on the net; it was quality shots. 

The Wranglers played exceptional hockey on both ends, pinning their opponent and earning a 3-2 win.


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    Zack Power covers the Toronto Marlies for Field Pass Hockey. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @FPHMarlies.

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