by Phillip Goodman
Game 1. Friday, November 12th, 2021.
Despite outshooting, out-possessing, and out-chancing the Fort Worth Barracudas, the Reno Ice Raiders were unable to solve netminder Josh Messick in a 3-1 loss Friday night at Reno Ice.
“The reason why [the Barracudas] won is because of their goaltending,” said Ice Raiders Head Coach Shane Hicke. “He stole the game for them. We just couldn’t get it behind him.”
The opportunities were there for the Ice Raiders in the form of six power play chances. Reno’s first three tries on the man advantage went less than ideal. On the Ice Raiders’ first power play of the first period, a blue line turnover led to a shorthanded breakaway opportunity which Reno netminder Al Taylor was able to stop.
On the Ice Raiders’ second power play attempt, an errant pass led to a Barracuda two-on-one. Skyler Spiller and Michael Garvie executed a perfect cross and drop pass in front of Taylor for the shorthanded goal and 1-0 lead going into the first intermission.
“I think we’re going to have to make some adjustments,” said Coach Hicke. “I just let our lines run today because of the fact that in our last game we had so many penalties. There was no flow. So this one, I just gave the guys an opportunity to play hockey. With two games this weekend I wanted more guys to get into the game and into the flow.”
Neither team scored in the second period even though the ice was still tilted towards Messick whose glove was tested numerous times by Reno snipers.
With 5:20 remaining in the third, Taylor seemingly had the puck covered in the crease. However Wayne Johns pushed Al Taylor’s glove into the net and the goal was awarded, giving the Barracudas a 2-0 lead.
On the ensuing faceoff Johns was called for a high sticking penalty. With Reno up a man, Dylan Dixon found John Zupko at the left point. Zupko carried the puck to the right circle and rifled a shot past Messick to bring Reno within a goal at 2-1.
Less than a minute later though, Bo Fulton skated untouched to the high slot and fired a wrister by Taylor putting the Barracudas up for good at 3-1.
Coach Hicke still seemed optimistic about the Ice Raiders’ play and chances for the second game of this back-to-back matchup.
“We dominated in the offensive zone and we dominated in the defensive zone,” he said. “We did make mistakes and the Barracudas capitalized on those. When they made mistakes, we just didn’t have the guys to put it in the net tonight. Hopefully tomorrow it’s a different day and we can start scoring some goals.”
Jeff Jiron a defensemen for Reno summed it up short and sweet, “You can’t win, if you can’t score.”
Game 2. Saturday, November 12th, 2021.
In front of a raucous crowd Saturday night at Reno Ice, The Reno Ice Raiders outshot, out-hit, and still dominated the possession game but still could not outscore the Ft. Worth Barracudas, falling 6-1.
Reno outshot the Barracudas 44-32. The Ice Raiders owned the faceoff circle winning 63% of the game’s draws. Yet for the second night in a row, it was Barracuda netminder Josh Messick that stifled the Raiders offense once again.
“We got a little frustrated with the way he was just robbing us,” said Ice Raiders’ Zeph Fagergren. “Goalie was a small guy but, honestly, a great goalie. He killed it.”
On a positive note, the Ice Raiders were a clean 3-for-3 on the penalty kill and gave up no shorthanded goals on their two unsuccessful power plays. There were no penalties assessed to either team in the third period. All the goals in Saturday’s tilt were scored at even strength.
Anthony Mata scored the lone goal for the Ice Raiders assisted by Adam Barba and Ryan Drizen (pronounced dry-zen). It was an answer to the Barracuda’s 3-0 lead in the second period, but the Barracudas stormed back 42 seconds later to reclaim a 4-1 lead.
For the Barracudas, Arnie Osuna was an unstoppable pest evading Ice Raiders defenders and tallying one goal plus three assists.
Up next for the Ice Raiders is a two-game road trip against the Breckenridge Vipers on the 19th and 20th of November. The Ice Raiders will spend the next week regrouping and recharging.
“It starts with taking a big deep breath,” continued Fagergren. “That was a little rough and we’re starting off a little rough but we’re learning a lot here. We’re coming together as a team. I think we’re gonna get the next one as long as we all work individually in our off time and come back together as a team and take it to [the Vipers].”
It will be the home and season opener for the Vipers. According to the Vipers’ website, fans can watch the action here.
The next home game for the Ice Raiders is Fri. Dec. 3rd at 7pm against the Calumet Wolves. Be sure to follow the Ice Raiders on Instagram and Facebook for info about ticket availability.