Updated: Mar 31
By Phillip Goodman
Donning retro jerseys honoring the 1995-1997 West Coast Hockey League Reno Renegades, the Ice Raiders routed the NorCal Stampede 15-3 on Friday and 16-2 on Saturday in front of the largest crowds Reno Ice has packed in all season.
The original schedule had the Fort Worth Barracudas making a return to Reno but the Barracudas backed out two months ago after the Ice Raiders’ January weekend sweep in Texas.
Back in September, the Ice Raiders hosted the then-named Stockton Stampede for two games with similar results. Since then, the NorCal Stampede are under new ownership and a completely retooled roster. These were the first two games of their rebranded season and it showed in the lopsided losses.
Eleven different Ice Raiders found the back of the net on Friday led by Jeff Jiron’s hat trick and Weston Nash’s four assists. Ramzy Anderson and Jesse Woinicki each had two goals. Charlie Montgomery, Adam Barba, Chris Whitten, Andrew Peterson, and Keegan Jones each had one goal and one assist. Nick Anderson, Zeph Fagergren, and Julian Herrera were in the one-goal plus two-assist club. Every other Ice Raider that didn’t score still contributed at least one assist.
Jiron opened the scoring 54 seconds into the contest then got his second goal less than five minutes after. That second goal opened the floodgates as Reno pummeled NorCal with four goals in a span of only 50 seconds.
Reno Ice goalie coach and local hero Joe Sorenson made his Ice Raiders’ goaltending debut on Friday and played very well, stopping 22 of 25 shots including all four Peterson Wealth Management penalty kills.
Sorenson held the Stampede scoreless through 35 minutes of action but by the time NorCal broke through the Renegades had a more than comfortable 11-1 lead. Reno outshot NorCal 47-25 and dominated the dots 42-23 (64.6% win percentage).
Saturday saw another full-throttle, no-mercy effort from Reno. NorCal fought off Reno’s attack for the first half of the opening frame until Jiron broke the scoring again at 10:38. Reno took a 6-0 lead into the first intermission and a 12-1 lead into the second.
Ice Raider veteran Justis Gyori stopped 23 of 25 shots including a brilliant Lone Wolf’s Chop Rodz save of the night on a Stampede 2-on-1 shorthanded rush. Reno hammered the Stampede with 64 shots, owned the faceoffs again at 57%, and went 3-for-5 on Brewers’ Cabinet Power Plays.
Ice Raider Ryan Drizen made his last two Ice Raiders appearances of the season as he plans to focus on collegiate medical studies. Drizen went out in high style by netting a hat trick in the third period, including a pair of highlight-reel goals by twice knifing through the Stampede defense and roofing backhanders seemingly with ease. He also added three assists to lead all scorers with six points.
Other notable scorers for Reno on Saturday: Jesse Woinicki had a hat trick and two helpers; Roger Hutchison and Keegan Jones both had two goals plus one assist; Weston Nash added one goal and three helpers; Morgan Ellis chipped in one goal and one assist; Julian Herrera - two goals; Nick Anderson - one goal; and Ramzy Anderson added three assists. Six more Ice Raiders contributed at least one assist.
Number one star honors for the weekend went to Reno’s Jeff Jiron, who scored a hat trick on Friday and on Saturday earned four more points plus one fiancé. With help from Ice Raiders’ teammates and the ownership group, Jiron proposed to his long-time girlfriend Yesenia after Saturday’s win on the ice in front of family and his best friends.
“We started this team in Vacaville I can’t even remember how many years ago,” Jiron started. “Seeing how much this team has grown and the support we get in Reno, plus the support Yesenia gives me and the team, it was really important to have all my best friends and the Reno community there. I definitely knew I wanted to do it in front of everybody. My best friends, my family, my dog (Kane the Wolf Dog) and to associate it with the sport I love more than anything made for a perfect night.”
Jiron continued to thank all of his teammates that coordinated the surprise. Owner Simon LeBleu orchestrated getting the rest of the boys ready with champagne bottles on the bench and with the Ice Raiders social media team to capture the moment so the fans and friends not in attendance could still relive the moment.
“Coach Hicke had to calm me down on the bench because I was a nervous wreck,” Jiron added. “Weston Nash and Zeph Fagergren are best buds from playing in Utah years ago. They let me know I was making a good decision, how to do it, what to say, and provided good emotional support. Jesse and Barba also helped me pick out the ring from Midtown Diamonds—who were great on assisting me through the process.”
General Manager Jess Peterson and teammate Andrew Peterson made sure that Jiron’s friends and family had a place to stay and helped decorate Flowing Tide for postgame
“Jeff Jiron has been an Ice Raider since the very beginning when the team was housed in Vacaville,” said Andrew Peterson. “There is no one who cares about the team more than he does. Jeff is a great guy and deserves all the accolades. Jeff and Yessenia are two of the best people I’ve ever met and it really shows a lot about our club culture and how much he cares about the team to propose after Saturday’s game. I’m very happy for both of them.”
The Ice Raiders will close their inaugural Reno season against the McCall Mountaineers on 3/25 & 3/26. Both games begin at 8pm and limited tickets are still available. If you’re in the Reno area on Saturday, join the Ice Raiders at The Brewers’ Cabinet for the last meet & greet from noon to 2pm.
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NorCal Stampede @ Reno Game 20 Highlights: