There was nothing wrong with Coachella Valley’s energy level Sunday in a Game 2 matinee of the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup Final. Same can be said for generating Grade-A scoring chances. What did go wrong was some unfortunate bounces for the Firebirds and stalwart goaltender Chris Driedger that resulted in a 3-1 lead after two periods that held up for a 5-2 final.

The championship series is now knotted at one game each, with Games 3, 4 and 5 shifting to the southern California desert. The pivotal Game 3 is Tuesday at the Firebirds’ Acrisure Arena (7 p.m., AHLTV.com).

After Hershey scored six minutes into the game, Prospect Luke Henman, the first player ever signed by the Kraken franchise, evened the score early second period. Henman quick-released a wicked wrist shot upon taking a pass from AHL rookie and 2021 third-round pick Ryan Winterton. It is Henman’s first goal this postseason after scoring twice in 13 playoff games last spring. Coach Dan Bylsma has praised Henman’s work ethic over his three AHL seasons as a pro, something he says other Kraken prospects have looked to emulate.

Defending champion Hershey was outshot, 12-4, as the second period unfolded. But the Bears took the lead for good when Driedger held on to the puck a beat too long, allowing rushing Hershey forward Alex Limoges to disrupt the Firebirds goalie’s stickhandling to move the puck net front, where Hershey’s Jimmy Huntington fired into the inadvertently vacated Coachella Valley goal.

When Marian Studenic scored unassisted 17 seconds into the third period, it appeared the Firebirds could be within distance of seizing a two-game lead in the series. Studenic’s short breakaway goal was prompted by linemate Shane Wright’s forechecking pressure as the Kraken’s 2022 first-round draft choice looks back in postseason form in his second game back since missing a half-dozen games due to a lower-body injury.

While Coachella Valley kept peppering Hershey goalie Hunter Shepard, who was outstanding all afternoon, Hershey regained the two-goal cushion when a seemingly routine longer-range shot off a faceoff win eluded Driedger, who was partially screened by some bodies as the puck came close to deflecting off the stick of CVF defenseman Ryker Evans.

"We certainly did have looks and offensive zone time," said Bylsma post-game, per Andrew John of the Palm Springs Desert Sun. "Their goalie played really well. He made some big glove saves, and you expect that in the playoffs."

Shepard was in goal for Hershey during his team’s triumph over Coachella Valley in last spring’s Calder Cup Final and proved a formidable opponent once again Sunday. Among the glove saves observed and noted by Bylsma, the 28-year-old former Minnesota-Duluth and 2017 NCAA champion made an acrobatic cross-crease grab on Shane Wright in the game’s eighth minute and a huge stop, basically batting the puck away rather than catching it, against veteran Firebirds forward Devin Shore five minutes into the second period of a 1-1 game.

The Firebirds finished with 34 shots on goal, including a dozen in each of the first two periods. The misleading 5-2 final was fueled by a late empty-net goal. Splitting in Hershey is still a plus for the Western Conference champs as they head home. It’s worth noting the Firebirds were skating hard right to the empty-netter tallied with 11 seconds remaining, and many CVF players on the team’s bench were frequently standing and supporting teammates. Expect that energy to be in full-on mode back in Coachella Valley in front of a full house of Firebirds fans Tuesday night.

The next chapter of Kraken hockey starts now, be part of it. Season Ticket Memberships are available.