Milwaukee, WI—Playing in his first game in 45 days, Devin Cooley stopped 28 of the 29 shots he faced to help guide the Admirals to a 3-1 win over the Coachella Valley Firebirds on Monday night at Panther Arena.
Cooley had yet to see game action in the post-season but stopped 22 shots over the first two periods against Coachella, who was the highest scoring team in the regular season in the AHL.
The win for Milwaukee was their first in the best-of-seven Western Conference Finals, which Coachella now leads 2-1 with game three set for Thursday night at 7 pm.
Keaton Thompson paced the offense with a goal and an assist, while Marc Del Gaizo and Joakim Kemell both lit the lamp for the Admirals, who outshot the Firebirds 37-29.
After a scoreless first period, Coachella got on the board first when Shane Wright found a loose puck in the Milwaukee crease and shoveled it in at 4:08 of the second.
Del Gaizo tied things up for Milwaukee with his fourth goal of the post-season 7:13 into the frame. His shot from the right point found its way through traffic and past a screened Joey Daccord. The goal also extended his Del Gaizo’s point streak to four games.
Kemell’s team-leading seventh of the post-season gave the Ads their first lead since game one with 3:52 to play in the sandwich frame. He carried the puck into the Coachella zone, toe dragged, and release one of his patented rockets past Daccord.
Thompson gave the Ads some insurance 5:39 into the third period when his shot from just inside the blueline got through traffic and into the Firebirds net.
The Firebirds pulled Daccord in favor of an extra attacker for the final 1:42, but Cooley and the Ads defense proved up to the task and they came away with the win.
The series continues on Thursday night at 7 pm with game four, followed by game five on Saturday night at 6 pm at Panther Arena.