By Phillip Goodman
The Reno Ice Raiders rebounded for a 4-3 Saturday night victory after losing 7-6 in Friday’s shootout to a much-improved Park City Pioneer hockey club. Nick Anderson’s Friday night hat trick kept the Ice Raiders in Friday’s contest and his third period redirect goal on Saturday held up as the game winner.
“They’re like a completely different squad,” said Ice Raiders’ Captain Andrew Peterson of Park City after Saturday’s win, the first win in Reno’s ‘22-23 campaign. “I think I recognized five or six of the guys and now they have a couple of [NCAA & ACHA] Division I guys. They were way better than they were last year.”
Friday’s contest was scoreless through 20 minutes despite a combined 28 shots on goals. On the first shift of the second period, Mickey Lang and Paul Frys connected with Nick Anderson for Anderson’s first goal and a 1-0 lead. Anderson’s second goal and Frys’ second assist came on the Brewer’s Cabinet Power Play with 13 minutes remaining in the second. Three minutes later, Mickey Lang extended the lead to 3-0 with an even-strength goal on helpers from Nick Anderson and Frys.
Park City stopped the bleeding with a goal at the nine-minute mark but Ramzy Anderson pushed the lead back to 4-1 thanks to an assist by Ice Raider newcomer Jason Scriabin.
The Pioneers stormed back with four unanswered goals (two even, two power play) to take a 5-4 lead with 5:36 remaining in the final frame. Nick Anderson’s hat trick goal a minute later tied the game.
With the score tied 5-5 and two minutes to go, the Pioneers took two undisciplined roughing penalties to hand Reno a two-man advantage. In a rarely-seen move, Ice Raiders’ Coach Mike Harder pulled Justin Sand from the net for a 6-on-3 advantage. The aggressive move paid dividends when Mickey Lang tickled the twine with 84 seconds left and a 6-5 lead.
Trey Dodd would not be denied though for Park City and his goal 10 seconds later sent the tilt to overtime, the first OT game the Ice Raiders have seen at Reno Ice. Neither squad scored in the extra frame and it was Dodd again that had Sand’s number in the shootout to give Park City the win. Dodd earned the rare Ovechkin Hat Trick - a shootout goal backed by a couple regulation goals. Mickey Lang and Paul Frys missed their shootout attempts.
The loss could have been more lopsided were it not for Justin Sand’s tremendous effort in net stopping 43 of 49 shots from Park City. Two promising improvements for the Ice Raiders: special teams were effective. Reno went 3-for-5 on their Brewer’s Cabinet Power Plays and allowed one only goal on their five Peterson Wealth Management Penalty Kills.
The Ice Raiders’ faithful fans braved the heavy snowfall to pack a standing-room-only Reno Ice Arena again on Saturday and they were treated to another close contest.
Paul Frys broke open the scoring at 11:33 of the first with assists going to Lang and Nick Anderson. Dodd scored his fifth of the weekend to tie score until the Ice Raiders earned another two-man advantage. Once again, Coach Harder again hit the aggressive pedal pulling Sand for the 6-on-3. The move worked once more when Mickey Lang’s power play goal put Reno up 2-1.
“I love it,” said Peterson of Harder’s call. “We love a 6-on-3. It’s foolproof.”
Ice Raiders’ owner/player Simon Le Bleu echoed Peterson’s sentiment.
“It’s unconventional but it works,” said LeBleu, making his uniformed return to Reno Ice since the middle of last season. “It worked both times he did it. I'm starting to wonder why we didn't do it more often, so it's really great.”
Defenseman Trevor Calamel evened the score for the Pioneers early in the second until Lang put on an effort-defining display. After Lang dashed around the Pioneer defenders in the o-zone, he appeared to have been tripped yet from his belly while sliding was able to push the puck through Pioneer goaltender Hunter Tetreault for the go-ahead goal 3-2.
With six minutes to go in the second, Calamel responded with a power play goal sending the teams into the last intermission tied 3-3.
Pioneer player/coach Robert Ward’s hooking penalty carried into the third period and on the Brewer’s Cabinet Power Play (and Sand still in net), Nick Anderson redirected an Andrew Peterson pass past Tetreault for the 4-3 score.
“Typically if you’re a D at the blue line, you see a sea of shin pads but I saw nothing but Ando and he was ready to tip it,” said Peterson about the play after receiving the point-to-point pass from James Stiles. “I didn’t even lift it off the ice. I just sent a hard pass and he tipped it right off the heel of his blade and it went off the post and in. It was sick.”
The Ice Raiders fought off a late penalty kill and held on for the gritty 4-3 win. Reno netminder Justin Sand improved his record to 1-2 on the season, stopping 45 of 48 shots on Saturday.
Le Bleu expressed more pleasure with the Ice Raiders’ results on and off the ice.
“I missed everybody,” said Le Bleu about being away from the team and Reno Ice. “Since we started here in Reno we have been taking multiple steps forward so it's really exciting to watch this program bloom. To get into some games this weekend was just amazing. I also want to say thanks to Jess Peterson and his family for all their efforts this weekend and making sure everything ran smoothly. We had two sold out games back-to-back and I think the fans really got a little bit of everything. They got to see an overtime shootout, some fighting, and lots of goals. It was a great weekend for hockey all the way around.”
The weekend of 11/18 the Ice Raiders will travel to McCall, Idaho for two games against a Mountaineers squad that gave Reno a run for their money back in March. The Mountaineers have yet to establish a social media presence so it is unclear if there will be any streams of the game.
The Ice Raiders will have the week of Thanksgiving off to be with their families then return to action at Reno Ice for games against the Breckenridge Vipers on Dec. 2 and Dec. 3 at 8pm PST. Those games are expected to be streamed live.