The Coachella Valley Firebirds (18-6-3-0) claimed a win in their first-ever meeting with the Ontario Reign (15-10-0-1) Wednesday night, coming from behind to win a wild 7-6 game at Acrisure Arena.
13 different skaters recorded a point for Ontario in the loss, which included a two-goal effort by Austin Wagner and a goal and an assist each from Lias Andersson, Alex Turcotte and TJ Tynan.
More from head coach Marco Sturm and Turcotte below.
The Reign came out with energy in the first and scored four times on Firebirds goaltender Joey Daccord in the opening period to hold a 4-2 lead after 20 minutes.
Wagner opened the offensive attack with his third goal of the year on a deflection of a shot from the left point by Jacob Moverare to make it 1-0 at 2:33 of the first.
Just 1:16 later, Samuel Fagemo added to the Reign lead by knocking home a loose rebound in front of the net off a shot by Turcotte, putting Ontario ahead 2-0.
Coachella Valley got back within a goal less than a minute later when Carsen Twarynski put the Firebirds on the board for the first time to make it 2-1.
Turcotte extended the lead back to 3-1 at 14:11 of the first by tipping home a pass by Martin Chromiak on the power play for his third goal of the season.
Cole Lind responded moments later with a power play goal for Coachella Valley that brought it back to a one-goal game at 15:28.
Before the end of the frame, Andersson pushed the Reign back in front with his ninth goal of the season on a wrist shot from the inside of the left circle off a pass from Tynan at 18:29. Andersson has now scored three times in Ontario’s last two games.
For a brief period in the second the Reign had a three-goal lead after Wagner netted his second of the night from defenders Tobias Bjornfot and Helge Grans at 8:13, but that didn’t last long as Coachella Valley quickly made it a 5-3 game on a goal by Cameron Hughes 22 seconds later at 8:35.
The Firebirds got back within one at 5-4 when Tye Kartye scored at 10:42 of the second, but Tynan gave Ontario extra insurance with the team’s sixth goal of the evening before the end of the third at 17:24 from Andersson and Tyler Madden.
After Tynan’s strike the Firebirds made a change in goal, replacing Daccord with Christopher Gibson. The Reign took their 6-4 advantage into the second intermission.
But Coachella Valley never went away and continued to fight back in the third. Jimmy Schuldt scored shorthanded at 5:09 to once again put the Firebirds within a goal at 6-5 and Max McCormick tied the game up at 11:29 by chipping a loose rebound in the crease up in the air past goaltender Cal Petersen.
Andrew Poturalski was credited with the game-winning goal for CV with just 1:10 to play in the third period on a wraparound that found its way past the goal line and into the net.
Both teams finished 1-for-2 on the power play in the contest, with each man-advantage goal coming in the opening period. The Firebirds held a 38-33 edge in shots on goal during the contest, with Gibson securing the win in between the pipes after stopping all 11 shots he faced after entering the game late in the second period. Daccord stopped 22 shots in just over 37 mintues of action, while Petersen ended the game with 31 saves in a losing effort for Ontario.
On the way his team played in a high-event game
I thought we had one of our better periods in the first and we did a lot of good things. I thought the energy was really good. Our good was really good and our bad was really bad. We’ve been there before and we still didn’t figure it out yet and that’s probably why we lost.
On the play of Turcotte, who was back to playing center on Wednesday
He was outstanding. I thought it was by far his best game today. He seemed happy. I think he’s a better centerman anyway, but we needed a guy for [Byfield] and we thought we did the right thing. I still think we did the right thing but he’s I think he’s more of a centerman and you can see today. Yes, we have to work with him especially on the defensive side of it but he did some really good things today and I was really happy about his game.
On playing against Coachella for the first time in a great atmosphere
They’re a good team. We knew it was going to be a tough one today and it was. Unfortunatelt it didn’t end up our way but we had our chance. I mean, we were up three goals one time, we were up two after the second, in their building, full crowd, beautiful arena, good fans, good team, we played a really good game. And with our mistakes, we just give it back to them. That today, that was the frustrating part because it was on our tape most of the time and they turned it over, they have a good transition game and they kept coming for 60 minutes and that was the difference.
On what it was like to play his first game in Coachella Valley
It was pretty cool. Warmups was pretty packed so kind of wasn’t expecting that, I knew they had a lot of season ticket holders… and when we got out there for the start of the game they were really loud and it seemed like every seat was pretty full so it was definitely fun to play in that type of NHL kind of atmosphere.
On if the team had any rust from the holiday days off
Sometimes when you get those days off you feel fresh but still kind of have to catch your wind a little bit more than normal, but you don’t have that that fatigue like you do when you’re playing a lot of games in a short amount of time. I’d say we all felt pretty good. The atmosphere definitely helped and we definitely had a good first period and it was pretty fun.
On the positives and negatives of playing in a game with lots of offense
I mean, scoring is fun so obviously the more offense we create, the more everybody’s kind of involved in the game I would say. Like I said, everyone wants to score, everyone wants to help the team win and when guys are doing that you feel pretty good about yourself and you know you’re helping the team but on the flip, we kind of obviously gave up way too many chances. Cal kept us in the game. I mean, they had a lot of breakaways, he had to come up big for us and it’s definitely frustrating to kind of waste the game with that much offense and you end up losing.
On how he felt with a new line and moving back to the center position
I felt really comfortable. Obviously that’s the position I basically played my whole life so it felt felt good to be back in the middle and start the game off well. It was a good experience obviously playing with [Byfield] and [Madden], they’re two amazing players so it was good to get on wing and kind of learn that as well and I think it’s going to help me moving forward.
Ontario returns home on Saturday night to host the Calgary Wranglers for the first time this season in a New Years’ Eve battle that is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. inside Toyota Arena.