Firebirds edge Admirals in Game 1 of West Finals

Photo: Mike Zitek

John Hayden scored twice, Chris Driedger made 37 saves and the Coachella Valley Firebirds extended their winning streak to seven games with a 2-1 win over the Milwaukee Admirals in the opener of the 2024 Western Conference Finals on Wednesday night.

The Firebirds host Game 2 of the best-of-seven series on Friday.

In a rematch of last year’s Western Conference championship series, Coachella Valley struck first at 14:55 of the first period when Hayden one-timed a pass from Cameron Hughes past Admirals goaltender Troy Grosenick for a power-play goal.

The Firebirds clung to their one-goal lead into the third period before Zach L’Heureux finally evened the score at 1-1, taking a feed from Reid Schaefer and netting his league-leading ninth goal of the postseason at the 5:20 mark.

Hayden got the game-winning tally with 11:11 to play, going to the net and tapping in Devin Shore’s pass for his second goal of the night and fourth of the playoffs.

Driedger’s 37 saves were a season high. Grosenick stopped 28 of 30 shots in the loss for Milwaukee.

Attendance at Acrisure Arena was 7,413.

(Coachella Valley leads series, 1-0)
Game 1 – Wed., May 29 – COACHELLA VALLEY 2, Milwaukee 1
Game 2 – Fri., May 31 – Milwaukee at Coachella Valley, 10:00
Game 3 – Tue., June 4 – Coachella Valley at Milwaukee, 8:00
Game 4 – Thu., June 6 – Coachella Valley at Milwaukee, 8:00
*Game 5 – Sat., June 8 – Coachella Valley at Milwaukee, 7:00
*Game 6 – Mon., June 10 – Milwaukee at Coachella Valley, 10:00
*Game 7 – Wed., June 12 – Milwaukee at Coachella Valley, 10:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern