By Phillip Goodman
The Reno Ice Raiders held on to beat the Sin City Kings by scores of 4-2 on Friday and 8-7 on Saturday at Reno Ice - The Jennifer M. O'Neal Community Ice Arena. The wins mark three consecutive for Reno and eight in a row when playing on Saturday nights.
Friday’s tilt started with frenetic pace through the first seven minutes of play. Sin City jumped out to a 2-0 lead, both goals coming off one-timers against Reno’s Justin Sand.
The Ice Raiders answered halfway through the period when Tony Tyrell’s wrister beat the Kings’ Josh Taylor. Although the goal was unassisted, Adam Barba gets honorable mention for separating the puck from a King to allow Tyrell to move the puck up ice.
Mickey Lang tied it up for Reno when a shot caromed off the right wing boards through a maze of players right to Lang in the circle. Lang lasered a wrister over Taylor’s right shoulder with Kevin Sunde and Nick Anderson getting assists.
The second period was full of tense action yet neither team gave up an inch. With under a minute to go, Jeff Jiron’s long outlet pass found Mickey Lang charging up the right wing. Lang crossed and dropped to Matt Robinson who found Kevin Sunde driving the center lane. Sunde dusted the puck once and beat Taylor with a forehand shot for the 3-2 lead. Robinson and Lang share the award for Sierra Sid’s Casino Assist of the Night on the sequence.
Sin City had a golden opportunity to tie score early in the third when they were awarded a penalty shot. James Stiles tripped Bobby Watson on a breakaway and the former teammates engaged in fisticuffs behind the net. Stiles was called for tripping and fighting while Watson was assessed five for facemasking. Since Watson was in the penalty box, he was ineligible to take the penalty shot. In Watson’s place, Anthony Matta deked and dangled but Sand stood his ground to keep the Ice Raiders up 3-2 for the Lone Wolf's Chop Rodz Save of the Game.
The drama intensified late when Mickey Lang was upended in Taylor’s crease with 3:50 remaining. While on the power play, Reno was caught with too many men on the ice to give Sin City to level the field to 4-on-4 with 2:37 remaining. During that 4-on-4 play, the Kings were about to be handed a slashing penalty until Tyrell got the puck to Lang who found Matt Robinson at the blue line. Robinson easily got around Anthony Matta and beat Taylor with a five-hole backhander to seal the win. Tyrell scored the Gordie Howe Hat Trick with his assist on the play.
In Friday’s 4-2 win, Reno killed all three Peterson Wealth Management Penalty Kills but were held off the board on their four Brewer's Cabinet Power Plays. Adam Barba, filling in as captain in the absence of the injured Andrew Peterson, liked the team’s effort on Friday.
“I think our team really saw how poor our performances had been on Friday nights,” Barba said. “Once we saw the overall record throughout the season though our goal was to not come out flat or on our heels. Vegas still scored first but we responded nicely and played well the rest of the game and got the W.”
On Saturday, Watson and Matta connected again early to give the Kings a 1-0 lead. Reno answered with four goals in the frame on Taylor, starting with a Brewer's Cabinet Power Play goal by Julian Herrera, followed by even strength goals from Mickey Lang, Charlie Montgomery, and Nick Anderson’s breakaway highlight.
Through the second period, Reno continued their strong 5-on-5 play getting goals again from Montgomery, Lang, and Barba. Reno took a seemingly comfortable 7-3 lead into the second intermission. Sand was given the rest of the night off having stopped 16 of 19 shots and Justis Gyori entered the crease for Reno.
Early in the third, Jeff Jiron was called for holding and the Kings scored on the ensuing power play to narrow the gap to 7-4. Jiron atoned for the infraction a minute later with a bomb from the blue line off a pass from Julian Herrera for the 8-4 lead.
The Kings would not go gentle into that Saturday night as they tallied three goals in the last ten minutes of play to keep Ice Raiders’ fans on the edge of their seats again. Two goals came on the power play and one was at even strength. The Ice Raiders improved to 11-6-1 on the season with the 8-7 win.
“I think we played a solid 40 minutes on Saturday based on the 7-3 score going into the third,” Barba added. “I think it was more of us playing poorly than Vegas doing anything spectacular. Their team skated hard and definitely had talent so they made us pay for coming out slow in the third period and luckily time ran out because we were back on our heels a little.”
Reno outshot the Kings both nights (42-38 Fri, 35-34 Sat.) and held their own in the faceoff circles winning 56% of the draws on Fri. and 50% Sat.
Up next for the Ice Raiders a long break before what hopefully won’t be the last homestand of the year. Team Cleveland had to cancel their Reno trip in March leaving the McCall Mountaineers visit on Mar. 24 the Mar. 25 as the Ice Raiders’ only home games in March.
Big thanks BJ’s Nevada BBQ for sponsoring this weekend’s action.
Friday, 2.17.23 - Game 13: Sin City Kings @ Reno Ice Raiders Highlights:
Saturday, 2.18.23 - Game 14: Sin City Kings @ Reno Ice Raiders Highlights: