By Phillip Goodman
December 4, 2023
The Reno Ice Raiders lost game one of the weekend series with the Fire Dept. of New York by a 6-2 final on Friday then rebounded with a four-goal third period on Saturday for a 5-2 win and weekend split. The games presented by Key Acura of Reno were standing room only crowds again at The Jennifer M. O’Neal Community Ice Arena.
Sean Gargin of FDNY Ladder Co. 169 potted two goals in the first then scored his third goal in the opening moments of the second for the natural hat trick and what would stand as the game winning goal.
Yet on the ensuing faceoff from that third goal, Gargin spun around and fell as an Ice Raider was skating through play and Gargin took a completely inadvertent knee to the side of his head. Gargin returned for shifts later in the game but was scratched for Saturday's contest.
Jim Becker and Matthew Gervasi netted second and third period goals, respectively, to give FDNY a 5-0 lead. With eight minutes left, Ramzy Anderson's centering pass from below the goal went off Nick Battaglia's stick right to Nathan Hogge and Hogge fought off two firemen to punch in the rebound.
Justin Sand, who was by no means less than great on Friday, was far sharper in Saturday's win. With FDNY leading 1-0 halfway through the second, Sand stopped a breakaway for the Lone Wolf's Chop Rodz Save of the Weekend.
Five minutes into the second, Billy Pascali of Ladder Co. 298 picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone after a bad bounce in the FDNY zone and beat Sand for a 2-0 FDNY lead. That would be the end of FDNY's offensive run.
Pavel Pustovoy broke the seal on FDNY netminder Matt Herzog late in the second period. Johnny Garrity's perfect stretch pass through the neutral zone gave Pustovoy a breakaway chance and Pustovoy beat Herzog to cut FDNY's lead to 2-1 after two periods. Garrity's pass was the Sierra Sid’s Casino Assist of the Weekend.
Early in the third Ice Raiders' defenseman Alex Gunnoe skated through everyone to the left circle and rifled a shot over Herzog's shoulder for the game tying goal at 2-2. Hunter Sine and Roger Hutchison earned the helpers.
Less than two minutes later, Ramzy Anderson finished a sweet drop-drop-shoot play after a solid forecheck shift giving Reno a 3-2 lead. Watson carried the puck to the slot, left it for Jon Sobieski who turned around and fed Ramzy Anderson for a chip shot that would stand as the game winning goal.
Bobby Watson's empty netter was the exclamation point on what many Ice Raiders called the biggest win in Ice Raiders' franchise history.
"After [Friday] night we thought we could really play with these guys and we came out for all three periods today and got the result we wanted to get," said number-one star of the game Pavel Pustovoy. "My linemates are great. They put me in a position where I can score. They make a quick pass and do a lot of work for me."
Also impressive about Saturday's win was the Ice Raiders only took one penalty all night and were successful in their one Peterson Wealth Management Penalty Kill. Conversely Reno was one for three on the Brewer's Cabinet Power Play. Reno bombarded Herzog with 48 shots on net in 81 shot attempts compared to FDNY's 62 attempts with 30 getting to Sand.
The Saturday night win against the fast, skilled team of FDNY was one of the biggest wins in Ice Raiders history since the NorCal championship era.
"It was the biggest win in recent memory, absolutely," said Ice Raiders General Manager Jess Peterson. "FDNY came with a retooled squad that was flat out good and we played with them and beat them."
"We can’t thank that team enough by the way," Peterson added. "They are professionals and very organized. And what a couple of games for the fans. We’re very lucky to see FDNY in Reno. How cool is that?"
Up next for the Ice Raiders is a trip to Sun Valley, Idaho to play the Sun Valley Suns on Friday Dec 8. and Sat. Dec. 9. The Ice Raiders will close out the 2023 calendar year on Fri. Dec. 15 and Sat. Dec. 16 against a new California rival, the San Diego Super Hornets, in a weekend series presented by Sierra Sid’s Casino.
Friday's LT Automotive Three Stars of the Game
Sean Gargin, FDNY - natural hat trick
Nick Battaglia, FDNY - saves
Roger Hutchison, Reno - dislodged one FDNY tooth and rearranged one FDNY nose)
Saturday's LT Automotive Three Stars of the Game
Pavel Pustovoy, Reno - 2G
Alex Gunnoe, Reno - 1G, tremendous defensive effort
Justin Sand, Reno - 29 saves on 30 shots
Friday, 12.1.23 - Game 5: Reno Ice Raiders vs. FDNY Highlights:
Saturday, 12.2.23 - Game 6: Reno Ice Raiders vs. FDNY Highlights: