Firebirds soar into conference finals with sweep of Reign

Photo: Mike Zitek

The Coachella Valley Firebirds completed a three-game sweep of the Ontario Reign with a 3-2 victory at Toyota Arena on Sunday evening.

With the win, the Firebirds advance to the Western Conference Finals for the second year in a row, to face the winner of the Central Division Finals between Milwaukee and Grand Rapids.

Kole Lind scored twice, leading the Firebirds back from a two-goal deficit to post their sixth win in a row.

The host Reign took a 1-0 lead 6:17 into the contest when Alex Turcotte collected a dump-in at the right-wing half wall and wristed a shot past Chris Driedger for his second goal of the postseason.

Ontario made it 2-0 less than seven minutes later, as Tyler Madden got a piece of Brandt Clarke’s shot from the center point with 6:58 to play in the opening frame.

The Firebirds responded in the second period with a pair of goals of their own. Lind got Coachella Valley on the board at the 5:41 mark, roofing a shot past Erik Portillo from the left circle to cut the deficit to 2-1.

With 8:23 remaining in the second, Jimmy Schuldt took advantage of traffic in front and sent a shot from the left point that found its way past Portillo, making it 2-2.

Coachella Valley took its first lead 46 seconds into the third period when Andrew Poturalski won a puck battle along the boards behind the Reign net and found an open Lind, who snapped in his second goal of the night.

Driedger made 22 saves on the evening, including a pair of stops during a 6-on-4 Reign power play in the final minutes.

Portillo finished with 20 saves for Ontario.

(Coachella Valley wins series, 3-0)
Game 1 – Wed., May 15 – COACHELLA VALLEY 3, Ontario 2
Game 2 – Fri., May 17 – COACHELLA VALLEY 5, Ontario 3
Game 3 – Sun., May 19 – Coachella Valley 3, ONTARIO 2