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Reno Sweeps Mountaineers Continuing Home Dominance

By Phillip Goodman

April 1, 2024

The Reno Ice Raiders made organization history by handily outplaying the McCall Mountaineers with a 3-1 win on Friday and 7-4 win Saturday. The victories were the first ever wins for the Ice Raiders over the Mountaineers since the Ice Raiders organization moved to Reno. 

The McCall series presented by Kelly Brothers Painting sold out within minutes of tickets being released and fans stood shoulder to shoulder around the endboards of The Jennifer M. O’Neal Community Ice Arena for the entire game. The rambunctious Reno crowd had plenty to cheer for as they saw their team battle through deficits and ties to emerge victorious.

"Beating McCall felt good because we got swept up there earlier in the season," said Ice Raiders' Captain Andrew Peterson. "I think it was good retribution too for last year's series when we lost in overtime to them while wearing the Renegades jerseys."

On Friday, the Mountaineers broke the ice five minutes into the second period. Defenseman Chris Hille exited the penalty box, collected the puck alone in the neutral zone and lasered a perfect shot to the upper corner for the 1-0 lead.

Reno responded a minute later with two goals in 30 seconds. Jake Minton and Johnny Garrity worked a 2-on-0 to perfection and Garrity buried the game tying goal. Hunter Sine earned the second assist with the headman pass to Garrity starting the break. Minton's pass back to Garrity was the Sierra Sid’s Casino Assist of the Weekend.

After a defensive zone draw, Bobby Watson pushed the puck quickly up ice for a 3-on-1 rush. Bobby Watson rifled a wrister for the go-ahead goal. Making his Reno Ice Raiders debut, Jasper Korican-Barlay assisted on the play.

The third period was a tense, even tilt. Reno finally gave themselves breathing room with three minutes to play when Pavel Pustovoy swatted home a goal for the 3-1 lead. Garrity and Jon Sobieski were credited with the assists. 

McCall could not get a chance to call their timeout and pull Comma from the net until there were 80 seconds left. Reno's stifling defense shut the door for the 3-1 win.

Justin Sand was marvelous in net, only allowing one goal on 19 shots earning him the  LT Automotive third star of the game. Mountaineer netminder Chris Comma deserves honorable mention for an  LT Automotive fourth star of the game as he stopped 51 of 54 Reno shots on net. Comma got more help from his Mountaineers defense that blocked 20 more shot attempts plus five more that rang off the iron. 

Coach Tookey wanted discipline from his club as one of his Key Acura of Reno Three Keys to the Game and he got that. Reno was successful in their lone Peterson Wealth Management Penalty Kill but was unsuccessful in six Brewer's Cabinet Power Play attempts.

Reno was the most dominant they ever been in this season in the faceoff circle. All four Ice Raiders' centermen were above 71% on the night: Watson 22-6, Garrity 15-6, Pustovoy 14-4, and Hutchison 11-2. 

The overworked Comma gave way to Seth Askew for the Mountaineers and the Ice Raiders sent Sand out again for Saturday, which played out like a 12-round heavyweight bout with the teams trading haymaker goals most of the game. 

Alex Gunnoe's chip shot over Comma put the Ice Raiders on the board first. Andrew Peterson earned the assist for making a tap-ahead pass for Gunnoe to go coast-to-coast. 

Jackson Howell tied the score 1-1 three minutes later on a 3-on-2 rush. Like the night before, Reno responded seconds later to reclaim the lead. Zeph Fagergren redirected Pavel Pustovoy's pass for the go-ahead goal also assisted by Gunnoe.

A lucky bounce of a wide blue-line shot bounced to Mountaineer Keaton Linegar in the slot and Linegar whipped a blind, behind-the-back backhander over Sand's leg pad to make the tilt tied 2-2.

With the Ice Raiders working a Peterson Wealth Management Penalty Kill, Bobby Watson stole the puck in the neutral zone and broke in on Askew. Askew stopped Watson's backhander but Jasper Korican-Barlay followed the play and roofed  his first ever Ice Raiders goal, a shorthander to boot.

Both teams took minor penalties in the last 90 seconds of the second period. The extra ice space gave Andrew Peterson plenty of real estate to skate down broadway and snipe a corner over Askew, sending Reno to the second intermission up 4-2.

The momentum from Peterson's goal carried right into the beginning of the third period. Bobby Watson found a loose puck behind the net and with Askew unaware of where the puck was, Watson was able to tuck it inside the post for the 5-2 lead 30 seconds in.

Trailing by three, the Mountaineers stole the puck behind the Reno net and threw it in front to a wide open Nathan James. Justin Sand made the Lone Wolf's Chop Rodz Save of the Weekend, possibly the save of the YEAR, robbing Nathan James with the glove save.

The Ice Raiders kept McCall off the board for the next seven minutes until they were able to sneak a redirect past Sand to keep the game close at 5-3.

Reno regained their composure and breathing room by getting a pair of quick strikes less than two minutes later. First Jasper Korican-Barlay cleaned up another Watson rebound then Hunter Sine buried an unbelievable goal from his knees giving Reno the 7-3 comfort space.

Reno played another well-disciplined game, going 3-for-3 on Peterson Wealth Management Penalty Kills (including that shorthanded goal) but again was scoreless on two Brewer's Cabinet Power Play attempts.

Reno's offense was even more relentless than the night before, putting 58 shots on net with 15 attempts getting blocked by McCall. McCall did a better job neutralizing Garrity (42.9%) in the dots but still had no answer to Pustovoy (81.3%). Reno took the upper hand again winning 44 of 76 draws on the night.

What was so effective for Reno this series versus previous games against McCall?

"I think the main thing that stood out for us vs McCall this series is that we maintained composure throughout both games and didn’t get involved in the rough stuff or trying to fight everything that moves," said Peterson.  "Historically, with the Raiders they get too flustered with chippy teams and missed calls. I do believe we’re the toughest team but I also believe that being able to take a slash or cheap hit and not retaliate is more professional and mature."

The Ice Raiders will close out the '23-'24 regular season with a pair of games against the Mansfield Barracudas, formerly from Fort Worth. The already sold-out series will pay homage to the Reno Renegades of the 90's with a new design of special jerseys sponsored by Key Acura of Reno.

Not sold out yet are tickets to Reno's Third Annual Classics Cup Game, featuring Canada versus USA in a highly spirited international matchup at  The Jennifer M. O’Neal Community Ice Arena. The event will also coincide with the first annual Hockey Day in Reno which includes an all-day kids' tournament presented by Reno Ice.

The Classics Cup weekend will benefit the Justin Hope Foundation. The JUSTin Hope Foundation's mission is dedicated to creating an inclusive environment and promoting a society that recognizes and values the unique abilities and contributions of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Get your tickets now for what will be two nights of entertaining hockey as the series is all tied up at 1-1.

Intermission interviews and Phillip's wardrobe are brought to you by The Nest Reno. Between now and April 13th, Ice Raiders fans can take 15% off their entire purchase (excluding sale/clearance items) when you mention the Ice Raiders at checkout.

Friday's LT Automotive Three Stars of the Game

  1. Johnny Garrity - 1G, 1A, 6 SOG, +2

  2. Hunter Sine - 1A, 3 SOG, +2

  3. Justin Sand - 17 of 18 Saves

Saturday's LT Automotive Three Stars of the Game

  1. Bobby Watson - 1G, 3A, 5 SOG, +4, 52% FOW

  2. Jasper Korican-Barlay - 2G, 1A, 3 SOG, +4

  3. Alex Gunnoe - 1G, 2A, 3 Blocked Shots, 9 SOG, +4

Friday, 3.29.24 - Game 17: Reno Ice Raiders vs. McCall Mountaineers Highlights:

Saturday, 3.30.24 - Game 18: Reno Ice Raiders vs. McCall Mountaineers Highlights:


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