By Phillip Goodman
May 1, 2023
With a 9-1 win on Friday night and a 7-1 win on Saturday night over the Sin City Kings, the Reno Ice Raiders finished their second season in Reno with a 14-6-2 record. The Ice Raiders will continue their streak into next season of consecutive sold-out games after Reno Ice was filled to the brim with rabid hockey fans yet again.
“The second season met and exceeded our expectations," said Ice Raiders' General Manager Jess Peterson. "Next season we look to do much of the same and introduce hockey to as many people as possible."
Justin Sand started both games in net for Reno and continued his stretch of strong play. Before having to make a departure Saturday for family obligations, Justis Gyori finished the second half of Friday's contest to secure the win. New Reno resident Brendan Murphy also got his first look in net for the last 20 minutes on Saturday and also played well. The three goalies combined to stop 37 of 39 Sin City shots over two games.
Ryan Robinson, younger brother of Ice Raider standout this season Matt Robinson, made his Ice Raiders debut this weekend. Ryan, finishing his first year at Arizona State Univ., connected with his brother for two goals and four assists over the weekend.
Playing in his last games ever as an Ice Raider, Ryan Drizen opened the scoring on Friday night with a short-handed goal. Drizen slipped behind the Sin City defense and James Stiles rifled a long outlet pass to Drizen who beat Everett Bailey for the 1-0 lead.
Ryan Robinson found his older brother Matt Robinson wide open in the slot and Matt finished with a wrister for a 2-0 Reno lead still in the first frame.
Sin City mustered their only score of the game in the first when Richard Prekop's wrister beat Sand on a rush. From there the tandem of Sand and Gyori were unbeatable.
After an offensive zone faceoff, Roger Hutchison tipped in a Peterson rebound for a 3-1 Reno lead.
As the opening frame wound down, Justin Sand made a point blank save on Sin City then the play quickly went the other way. Hunter Sine, another recent Reno relocator and former NorCal foe, scored his first Ice Raider goal with a slot wrister for the 4-1 Reno lead.
Reno fought off three Peterson Wealth Management Penalty Kills in the first period to protect their lead.
The second period was less eventful than the first, with the exception of Tony Tyrell sending a King to the locker room for repairs and Matt Robinson's second goal on the Brewer's Cabinet Power Play. Lang and Ryan Robinson earned assists.
Ryan Robinson's first goal as an Ice Raider to open the third extended the lead to 6-1. Lang and brother Matt had the helpers.
Charlie Montgomery intercepted a Sin City clearing attempt then found Matt Robinson open on the back door. Matt's hat trick goal extended the dominance to 7-1.
Montgomery logged another notch on the scoresheet after Sine chipped the puck ahead to Monty for a 2-on-1 rush. Monty sniped a corner to put Reno up 8-1 with eight minutes to go. The fact that Montgomery was even awake enough to play was nothing shy of a miracle. He had just flown back from a work trip in Germany and arrived at the rink 15 minutes before puck drop.
Jeff Jiron closed the scoring for Reno with under a minute remaining. The Jiron bomb found its way through everything to complete the 9-1 rout.
Hunter Sine in his Ice Raiders debut won 15 of 21 faceoffs to lead the game. His prowess on draws and strong skating put him in consideration for the three stars of the game. Hutchison was also excellent in the dots, winning 14 of his 19 tries. No one on Sin City was over 40% for faceoff wins.
Reno was 1-for-2 on the Brewer's Cabinet Power Plays and a perfect 6-for-6 on PMW penalty kills.
Matt Robinson led all scorers with five points (3G, 2A) while little bro Ryan had four points (1G, 3A).
Everett Bailey did all he could in net for the Kings by stopping 54 of 63 shots while working through a strained groin. Bailey gave way to backup Vincent Sorgentoni for Saturday's contest.
The Sin City Kings started the scoring on Saturday night when Richard Prekop's one-time blast off a turnover beat Sand with exactly one minute remaining in the period.
Before that goal announcement could be even finished, Andrew Peterson walked the puck to the front of the net and slid a backhander under Vincent Sorgentoni for the 1-1 tie. That score would carry into the first break.
From there it was all Ice Raiders:
Ryan Robinson - Jiron's long sauce toss to Matt starts a 3-on-1 and Ryan finishes with a snipe.
Ryan Drizen - Hutchinson's one timer caroms perfectly to Drizen and there was no missing the net on this one.
Ramsey Anderson - Ryan Robinson's behind-the-back backhand pass is without a doubt the Sierra Sid's Casino Assist of the Weekend. How did he know exactly where Ramzy's stick would be?
Peterson again - Andrew Peterson works the edges to the outer left circle and rifles a shot farside. Ellis and Drizen get the assists. This would be Drizen's last point as an Ice Raider.
Zeph Fagergren - Adam Barba takes the turnover from Sin City, finds Hunter Sine below the goal line and Zeph floats back to open space to create time to turn and fire a laser top shelf.
Tony Tyrell - Tony pinches into the open high slot and caps the scoring at 7-1. Sine and Barba earned the assists again.
Despite the lopsided score, all eight goals on Saturday were scored at even strength. The first penalty of the game was not called until the 19:30 mark of the second frame. Two more minor infractions were called in the third with neither team yielding a power play goal.
With five seconds left to go in a long-decided contest, Roger "The Enforcer" Hutchinson accepted Cole Diamond's dance invite to send the fans out with a roar. Hutchison landed a hard right that stung Diamond to put an exclamation point on the game, the series, and the season.
Hutchison was also dominant in the circles leading all players (that took more than five faceoffs) with 18 wins on draws (78.3% success rate).
Sorgentoni faced a barrage of 63 Ice Raider shots and did not play poorly at all. Sand played 40 minutes and made 12 saves while Murphy only needed to make two saves as the relentless Raiders kept possession of the puck most of the third period.
First-year Ice Raiders' Coach Mike Harder was pleased with his team's run down the stretch, winners of five of the last six games after losing four of six to begin the 2022 campaign.
"We kept getting better as the season went on," said Harder. “The support from the community, ownership, and the players made the season super enjoyable. I'm really looking forward to training camp and being behind the bench again next season."
The emotions of the weekend and the season caught up to everyone as Ryan Drizen choked back the tears in his final on-ice interview. Drizen is graduating this spring from Palmer College of Chiropractic and plans to move back to his hometown of Boston.
Drizen began his Ice Raiders career in Vacaville the season before the pandemic stopped the world. When told the team was relocating to Reno, Drizen welcomed the chance to be a part of something new and big in Reno while staying with the Ice Raiders hockey family that embraced him.
"I think I speak for all of us, as a player all you want to do is make something that will outlive you and last longer than yourself," Drizen said with all the Ice Raiders watching on the ice. "Bringing hockey to Reno, that's the legacy. That's something I can definitely walk away and be happy with."
"Reno is a hockey town," he emphasized. "Let's go!"
Friday's Landsinger Realty Three Stars
1. Ryan Robinson
2. Matt Robinson
3. Justin Sand & Justis Gyori
Saturday's Landsinger Realty Three Stars
1. Ryan Drizen
2. Andrew Peterson
3. Matt Robinson
Austin Quirt of Sin City was thankfully all smiles at the rink on Saturday less than 24 hours after being stretchered off the ice. Early in the third period, Chris Whitten delivered a hip check and Quirt's head and neck took the brunt of impact. A temporarily unconscious Quirt was stabilized on the ice and REMSA rushed him to the hospital where he was deemed to have only "a stiff neck and a mild concussion," according to Sin City Coach Gabe Testa.
Friday, 4.28.23 - Game 17: Sin City Kings @ Reno Ice Raiders Highlights:
Saturday, 4.29.23 - Game 18: Sin City Kings @ Reno Ice Raiders Highlights: