Who’s ready for a rematch? 

After shutting out the Grand Rapids Griffins in Game 5 of the Central Division Finals on Sunday, the Milwaukee Admirals set the stage for a Western Conference Finals showdown against the Coachella Valley Firebirds. 

This is the second year in a row the Nashville Predators’ AHL affiliate will face the Firebirds in the semifinal round of the Calder Cup Playoffs, with Milwaukee falling in last year’s series, 4-2. 

Carrying the momentum from a three-game comeback in the Central Division Semifinals and a difficult, five-game battle in the Division Finals, the Admirals look to flip the script this time around.

Of course, facing the regular season’s Western Conference champions in a best-of-seven series will provide plenty of challenges. 

“They're a very good team, and they're going to be a lot for us to handle,” Admirals Head Coach Karl Taylor told Milwaukee Play-by-Play Announcer Aaron Sims during Sunday’s postgame availability. “I think they're very similar. They’ve got a great goaltender, they've got elite talent, they got a lot of their core leadership back and they're hungry. They went to the finals and lost in Game 7 in overtime. So, they're a very determined group who’s trying to change their fate from last year, just like we will be against them because they knocked us out in Game 6.”

“They've had a great year, pretty much from start to finish,” Admirals Captain Kevin Gravel said on Sunday evening. “We've had a good run here and they obviously won their division, so they're going to be waiting for us out there. We're going to enjoy this one tonight. It's going to be fun to go out there. It's an awesome environment to play in in Palm Springs, the rink is incredible, the crowd’s great [and it’s] the Western Conference Finals. There's not much more you can ask for.” 

The Admirals take the ice in Palm Springs for Game 1 on Wednesday at 9 p.m. CT, with the game streaming on AHLTV.

Here’s everything you need to know:

The Good Guys

With 10 postseason outings in the rearview, the Admirals have seen contributions up and down the lineup, with 19 skaters registering at least a point thus far.

“It takes everybody,” Gravel said. “It takes more than the 20 guys that are in the lineup every night. You never know when you’re going to be called on and when it's going to be your chance to step up. We've done great with that all year and we've done great with that throughout this little run here. The guys have been awesome, the guys really care about each other in that room. They want to win for each other and it really is a special group.” 

While the Admirals have indeed benefitted from scoring depth, its younger members have been leading the charge. 

Forward Zachary L’Heureux, who tallied the shorthanded game-winner on Sunday, leads the AHL in points (13), goals (8) and shorthanded goals (2), and is second among all league skaters in game-winning goals (3).

In the midst of their second career Calder Cup Playoffs appearances, forwards Juuso Parssinen and Joakim Kemell share the team lead in assists with seven each. 

“It's not just the guys with letters on their jerseys,” Gravel said. “You see it coming out of a lot of our first year guys now too. They're comfortable, they're not afraid to speak up and that's a great thing. When you get that as a group, when everyone's pulling the same weight and holding each other accountable special things can happen. We're kind of starting to see that with our group here. Guys are playing for each other, playing with each other and playing for the guy next to them. It’s really fun when stuff like that happens.”

In net, the Admirals have started Troy Grosenick and Yaroslav Askarov in five games each. 

Grosenick is 4-1 - including a series-clinching, 30-save shutout in Game 5 on Sunday - with a 2.00 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage thus far. 

Askarov is 2-3 with a 3.25 goals-against average and a .882 save percentage in his second career Calder Cup Playoffs appearance. 

The Other Guys

After clinching the Western Conference title with a dominant 46-15-11 record during the regular season, the Firebirds have surged into the conference finals. 

Since dropping their first postseason game on May 3, the Seattle Kraken’s AHL affiliate have won six in a row, first defeating the Calgary Wranglers in the Pacific Division Semifinals, then sweeping the Ontario Reign in the Division Finals.

The Firebirds finished six points ahead of the Admirals, who they have not faced since last year’s Conference Finals.

American Hockey League veterans Max McCormick, Devin Shore and Andrew Poturalski lead the Firebirds with six points each, while McCormick and Shore share the team lead in goals with four each. Poturalski and veteran forward Cameron Hughes share the team lead in assists with five each. 

Goaltender Chris Driedger has started in all seven of the Firebirds postseason contests, and has posted a 2.39 goals-against average, a .921 save percentage and one shutout thus far. 

Circle the Calendar

Posting the superior regular-season record, Coachella Valley earned home-ice advantage in their best-of-seven series against Milwaukee. 

See below for the full Western Conference Finals schedule: 

Game 1: Milwaukee at Coachella Valley, Wednesday, May 29 at 9 p.m. CT

Game 2: Milwaukee at Coachella Valley, Friday, May 31 at 9 p.m. CT

Game 3: Coachella Valley at Milwaukee, Tuesday, June 4 at 7 p.m. CT

Game 4: Coachella Valley at Milwaukee, Thursday, June 6 at 7 p.m. CT

*Game 5: Coachella Valley at Milwaukee, Saturday, June 8 at 6 p.m. CT

*Game 6: Milwaukee at Coachella Valley, Monday, June 10 at 9 p.m. CT

*Game 7: Milwaukee at Coachella Valley, Wednesday, June 12 at 9 p.m. CT

*If necessary

The Western Conference winner will meet the winner of the Hershey Bears/Cleveland Monsters series in the Calder Cup Finals. The Admirals have made it to the final round twice before, winning the only Calder Cup in franchise history following a four-game sweep of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 2004. 

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