Admirals drop Game 1, Firebirds lead Western Conference Finals early

For the first time in the postseason, the Milwaukee Admirals lost a Game 1 as they dropped a 6-4 decision to the Coachella Valley Firebirds on Thursday night at Acrisure Arena.

Coachella now leads the best-of-seven Western Conference Finals 1-0.

Joakim Kemell, Phil Tomasino, Michael McCarron and Jimmy Huntington scored goals for the Admirals while both Spencer Stastney and Adam Wilsby chipped in with two assists on the night. Yaroslav Askarov stopped 23 shots but suffered the loss in net for Milwaukee.

RELATED: Check out the new and improved FOX Sports app

The Firebirds struck first on a Tye Kartye shot from the slot that went bardown over the shoulder of Askarov at 4:14 of the first.

However, Milwaukee countered exactly 30 seconds later on Kemell’s team-leading sixth of the playoffs. Before the Coachella crowd was sitting back down, the Admirals had established the zone and Stastney sent a pass D-to-D to Wilsby, who took a couple of strides and fired a shot that Kemell deflected by goalie Joey Daccord.

SIGN UP TODAY: Get daily headlines, breaking news emails from FOX6 News

Coachella regained the lead in the second period on a Joey Schuldt shorthanded tally 5:38 into the frame.

The Admirals responded again to tie the game courtesy of Tomasino’s first of the postseason. The play started when Huntington led a three-on-one into the Coachella zone. He dished the puck to Marc Del Gaizo, who immediately passed it to Tomasino, who scored past Daccord’s left pad at the 7:50 mark.

Milwaukee grabbed its first lead of the series when Michael McCarron fired a snapper from between the wheels that beat Daccord glove side just 1:52 into the third.

Unfortunately for the Admirals, the Firebirds offense caught fire as they scored three times in 3:32 span in the middle of the final frame to turn a one-goal deficit into a two-goal advantage. Max McCormick sandwiched two goals around an Andrew Poturalski tally for a 5-3 advantage.  

FREE DOWNLOAD: Get breaking news alerts in the FOX6 News app for iOS or Android.

An empty netter by McCormick with 2:16 to play gave him a hat trick and the Firebirds a three-goal lead.

Huntington got one back for Milwaukee as he deflected a Stastney shot at 18:06 past Daccord, but that’s all the Admirals could get as they fell in Game 1.  

Milwaukee will look to level the series in Game 2 on Saturday night at 9 p.m. CT from the Acrisure Arena. The series then shifts to Milwaukee for Game 3, Game 4 and, if necessary, Game 5 beginning Monday, May 29 at 6 p.m.

Tickets for all three home games are on sale now at the Admirals' website or by calling the ticket office at 414-227-0550.