AHL Morning Skate: June 15, 2023

Photo: Tori Hartman/Hershey Bears

P2-Coachella Valley Firebirds vs. A2-Hershey Bears
Game 4 – Tonight, 7:00 ET,
TV: NHL Network, NBC Sports Washington, Root Sports Northwest
Satellite Radio: SiriusXM 91 NHL Network Radio
(Coachella Valley leads series, 2-1)

Game 1 – Thu., June 8 – COACHELLA VALLEY 5, Hershey 0 | Recap
Game 2 – Sat., June 10 – COACHELLA VALLEY 4, Hershey 0 | Recap
Game 3 – Tue., June 13 – HERSHEY 5, Coachella Valley 4 (OT) | Recap
Game 4 – Thu., June 15 – Coachella Valley at Hershey, 7:00
Game 5 – Sat., June 17 – Coachella Valley at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 6 – Mon., June 19 – Hershey at Coachella Valley, 10:00
*Game 7 – Wed., June 21 – Hershey at Coachella Valley, 10:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern

The Hershey Bears got on the scoreboard and then got in the win column on Tuesday night, taking a 5-4 overtime decision to cut Coachella Valley’s series lead to 2-1 heading into tonight’s Game 4... Riley Sutter (2-3-5) potted the winning goal 13:34 into OT as Hershey scored five times on 30 shots after being shut out in both Games 1 and 2... Sutter became the fourth member of his family to score a Calder Cup Playoff overtime goal, following his cousin Brody (Apr. 26, 2013 with Charlotte), his cousin Brett (May 2, 2011 with Charlotte) and his uncle Darryl (May 6, 1980 with New Brunswick)... Ethen Frank (1-3-4) opened the scoring in Game 3 with his first goal of the playoffs, ending the Bears’ scoreless streak at 160:44... Frank, Joe Snively (2-10-12), Sam Anas (4-8-12) and Garrett Pilon (3-6-9) all notched a goal and an assist in Game 3... Hunter Shepard (11-5, 2.30, .913) made 33 saves as Hershey snapped a six-game Finals losing streak going back to their Cup-clinching win over Texas in 2010... Cameron Hughes (3-19-22) had two goals and an assist in Game 3, and has scored three times in the last two contests after going 22 games without a goal... Brogan Rafferty (2-7-9) added a goal and an assist for the Firebirds, who fell to 3-5 on the road this postseason... Kole Lind (7-21-28) extended his scoring streak to six games with an assist on the tying goal with 50.1 seconds left in regulation... Joey Daccord (14-8, 2.26, .926) is 5-2 with a .927 save percentage following a loss this postseason... Coachella Valley was 2-for-3 on the power play in Game 3 and is now 5-for-14 (35.7 percent) during the Finals... Hershey’s five goal-scorers in Game 3 had entered the night with a combined seven goals all postseason... Tonight’s game will be seen live on NHL Network and can be heard on SiriusXM NHL Network Radio.

Put the Coachella Valley Firebirds on the power play at your own risk.

After surrendering nine power-play opportunities to the Firebirds in Game 2, the Hershey Bears largely cleaned up their penalty issues in Game 3, allowing only three man-advantage chances on Tuesday.

But Coachella Valley still scored a pair of power-play goals, including Cameron Hughes’ tally with 4:34 to go in regulation to bring the Firebirds to within 4-3. They eventually tied the game before the Bears won in overtime.

Through 22 playoff games, the Coachella Valley power play is operating at a 20.9 percent clip (18-for-86).

At any given point the Firebirds can roll out the likes of Hughes, Jesper Froden, Alexander True, Max McCormick, Kole Lind, Andrew Poturalski, Tye Kartye, Brogan Rafferty, Ryker Evans, Jimmy Schuldt... The options are many.

Helping to orchestrate the power play has been first-year assistant coach Jessica Campbell. Her background as a skating and skills coach meshes with Coachella Valley power-play units brimming with talent.

“She’s been awesome,” Hughes said. “She’s been an unreal coach. The sky’s the limit for her. It’s been pretty fun to work with her.”

Riley Sutter largely handles Hershey's more unglamorous tasks.

Anchor what has been an exceptionally good fourth line, one that also features Beck Malenstyn and Mason Morelli. Take a key draw. Kill penalties. Shut down opponents. Chew up minutes.

But those jobs are not unglamorous to Sutter’s teammates, nor do they go unnoticed.

The 24-year-old plays like a typical Sutter, of course. He is part of the extensive Sutter family tree that has dotted pro hockey for more than 40 years. His father, Ron, played 19 seasons in the National Hockey League and then had another 20 years in scouting and player development with the Calgary Flames. Riley’s cousin, Brett, currently captains the Calgary Wranglers.

But Riley got his moment in the spotlight — a very bright spotlight — in Game 3 with his overtime goal. It was one that rescued the Bears from what had been a ferocious Coachella Valley third-period comeback and dominant overtime performance.

The 2018 third-round pick of the parent Washington Capitals is in his fourth season with Hershey, though his first three campaigns had been limited to a combined 89 games. But he stayed healthy and in the lineup this season, dressing for 69 games, posting 12 points (five goals, seven assists), and becoming a reliable option for head coach Todd Nelson.

In keeping with his on-ice brand, Sutter took a low-key approach following the Game 3 victory.

“We’ll go over film the next couple of days and see things we have to correct and go from there,” he said Tuesday night. “But I think there’s a lot of positives that we can build off moving forward.”

Patrick Williams

The Vegas Golden Knights captured the 2023 Stanley Cup championship on Tuesday night with a 9-3 victory over the Florida Panthers... Three-time AHL All-Star Jonathan Marchessault won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after totaling 13 goals and 12 assists in 22 games... Vegas captain Mark Stone, who recorded 79 points in 91 AHL games over two seasons, notched a hat trick in the Cup-clinching win... Nicolas Roy became the 130th player ever to win both the Calder Cup and the Stanley Cup; Roy was a member of the AHL champion Charlotte Checkers in 2019.

Watch the Calder Cup Playoffs on AHLTV
Don’t miss a second on the road to the 2023 Calder Cup championship. AHLTV features live streaming of every AHL game in high definition on desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile devices, as well as OTT platforms such as Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Android TV. A subscription is just $29.99 for the entire postseason, or just $8.99 for a day pass. Visit AHLTV.com for details.