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Firebirds are ready for the biggest challenge yet |

Patrick Features Writer

Kole Lind delivered a quick update following Game 5 of the Calder Cup Finals on Saturday night.

A 3-2 loss at Acrisure Arena put Lind and the Coachella Valley Firebirds on the brink of elimination for the first time this season. The Firebirds must win two games in Hershey to win the Calder Cup.

It’s a clear, albeit very demanding, request for Firebirds.

Minutes after losing Game 5, Lind told reporters, the head coach Dan Bylsma he poked his head into the dressing room.

“[He said,] ‘We’re going there to get two,'” Lind recounted.

A visiting team has not skated to the Calder Cup in Hershey since Springfield did so in 1961. No team has ever won Games 6 and 7 of the Calder Cup Finals on the road.

“No one said it would be easy.” Lind said.

And the Firebirds don’t know. Last season they lost to the Bears in overtime in Game 7. This time they will have to go to the Giant Center – where the Bears have gone 37-9-0-0 this season – and win twice if they want to contend for the top spot. Calder Cup from Hershey. But the Firebirds have shown they can get the job done on the road, going an AHL-best 26-5-3-2 (.792) in the regular season; they also took Game 1 of the series at the Giant Center. They are a group that makes themselves comfortable in uncomfortable places.

Hershey was able to slow down Coachella Valley’s surging offense in Games 4 and 5, holding the Firebirds to an average of 25 shots on goal. However, Bylsma came away happy with his team’s performance on Saturday, however the result.

“I really liked what we did,” Bylsma said in a press conference after the game. “I thought it was a good effort, a perfect effort. For this group, our journey has had many bumps [at] different times. We have been responding. We’re going to Hershey to win 6 and 7.”

Bylsma also told his players to pack for their trip to Hershey as if they were going to be there for two games. Tonight will be Coachella Valley’s 90th game of the season. Last year’s team played 98 games. The core of the Firebirds has been through a lot together. And with Bylsma’s promotion to Seattle and the fact that AHL clubs often go through major changes in the offseason, this week will likely be the last time most of the team meets.

“I am confident in our team that we will come out with great momentum in Game 6,” said Lind. “I don’t doubt them. We held Game 1 there. We’ll go there, focus on Game 6, grab it and go from there.”

“We have nothing in store for you. We will put everything in line. If we do that, I know our team will come out on top.” feature writer Patrick Williams has covered the American Hockey League for nearly two decades for outlets including, Sportsnet, TSN, Hockey News, SiriusXM NHL Network Radio and SLAM ! Sports, and most recently was the host of The Hockey News On The ‘A’ podcast. He was the recipient of the AHL’s James H. Ellery Memorial Award for the league’s top scorer in 2016.

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