Coachella Valley Firebirds overpower San Diego Gulls during "Pink in the Rink" night
On Friday night, the Coachella Valley Firebirds played the San Diego Gulls to the last minute, pulling out a tough 2-1 win over the last place team in their division. The Firebirds were not happy with that performance, and they showed it Saturday night, overpowering the Gulls early in a 4-0 shutout win at Acrisure Arena.
The Firebirds (30-7-3-1) remain in second place in the Pacific Division while the Gulls (12-34-0-0) are in last place.
The Firebirds came out firing on all cylinders, scoring three goals in the first period courtesy of Austin Poganski, Max McCormick and Jesper Froden. From the opening puck dropped, the Firebirds seemed locked in. The Firebirds played fast and they played physical, a brand of hockey that fans have grown accustomed to seeing but one that had been missing over the last two games.
"Every game is different," said McCormick, a team captain and AHL All-Star. "There's momentum shifts, you just have to focus on the things you can control. Just focus on playing your game. Sometimes they go in early and often and sometimes they don't and you have to keep working for it, but tonight they were going in for us."
The second period saw less action, but it was still a period dominated by the Firebirds. It felt like the puck stayed on the Gulls half of the rink for most of the period, and that aggressive play style resulted in another McCormick goal for a 4-0 lead.
The third period was more of the same, another period with most of the time spent on the Gulls side of the rink. This time, however, no points were produced and the game finished 4-0. Christopher Gibson turned in the shutout in the net.
The Firebirds hosted the first "Pink in the Rink" night at Acrisure Arena. The event, presented by the Eisenhower Lucy Curci Cancer Center, consisted of the Firebirds wearing pink jerseys in support and remembrance of all that fight breast cancer. The base color of the jersey was black, while the logo, sleeves and accents were a hot pink. The jerseys had chromatic pink numbers and a breast cancer symbol adorned on both sides.
"It's amazing," said Gibson when describing "Pink in the Rink". "I think every year it's a huge deal. I have a couple of family members that are going through it, so it's a special night."
1-0 Firebirds: The first goal of the match came four minutes into the first period. The Firebirds sent a shot at the net that got blocked, but the puck snuck by everyone and slid harmlessly on the ice for a second or two. Austin Poganski was the first to find it and send it into the net. Assists credited to Luke Henman and Matt Tennyson
2-0 Firebirds: The Firebirds' second goal of the night came soon after and was similar to the first. Max McCormick caught the rebound and shot the puck in for a score. Assists credited to Cameron Hughes and Jesper Froden.
3-0 Firebirds: The Firebirds scored three goals in only eight minutes of play. Their third goal came off of a power-play that saw Jesper Froden receive the puck and snipe it into the top right corner of the net. Assists credited to Brogan Rafferty and Max McCormick.
4-0 Firebirds: The Firebirds' fourth goal came with six minutes left in the second period. During a power-play, Max McCormick tipped in a shot for his second goal of the game. Assisted by Jesper Froden and Ryker Evans.
Firebirds' Player of the Game
Max McCormick: The team captain Max McCormick scored two goals to go along with an assist in the win.
Fans embrace "Pink in the Rink": The Firebirds weren't the only people repping pink as many fans adorned pink clothing along with pink towels that were waved in the air to show their support. After the player intros, everyone on the arena held their cellphone lights up in a moment of silence. Fans were handed signs at the entrances labeled "I PINK FOR", where they could write the name of someone they support in their fight against breast cancer. The signs were held up during multiple points of the contest.
Power plays galore: The Gulls were frustrated all game and that showed in the power play differential. There were 11 power plays in this match, and the Firebirds had seven of them.
The Firebirds are off until they head to San Diego to face the Gulls on Friday for a third consecutive time.
This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: Coachella Valley Firebirds overpower San Diego Gulls during "Pink in the Rink" night