On Thursday night the 47th annual FDNY vs. NYPD Hockey Heroes matchup at Madison Square Garden was a instant hit for both fans in the seats and those watching on ESPN2. The game broadcast nationwide will go down as another classic moment in The Garden’s history. After missing last season due to COVID, the clubs put on a show for all.
Prior to puck drop, The Garden hosted pre-game ceremonies to honor those lost during the 9/11 attack and those who have succumbed to illness in the rescue and recovery efforts following the attacks. In an somber and emotional tribute on the doorsteps of the 20th anniversary of 9/11, ESPN and MSG put forth a grand affair.
Once the ceremonies were finished, the tension of the game quickly built and was evident even for those like myself watching on TV. The body language and intensity on the faces of both the Bravest and the Finest gave just a tease of what was to come.
And what a game it was.
Right off the drop of the puck, the action was furious, mean and spirited. John Perretta – Ladder Co. 32 laid a Scott Stevens style hit in the high slot to get things rolling while the NYPD squad fired shots furiously on net to no avail. NYPD would strike first in the game after heavily outshooting the FDNY but the end result of the period would not sit in their favor.
When the action resumed, the game was full of big hits, quick plays and overall solid footwork that at times it seemed to leave the ESPN crew in awe. John Buccigross with the primary play by play joined by Kevin Weekes and Ryan Callahan with Linda Cohn rinkside delivered as much excitement in the broadcast as if they were fans sitting in the blue seats.
This was no ordinary scrimmage or charity game, and to be fair these never are. FDNY holds the advantage in wins with 25 vs. NYPD’s 18. The games routinely are heated affairs with even bench clearing brawls not all that uncommon.
A handful of fights, big hits, goalie collisions, mad scrambles in the crease and a slew of power play goals led the stories of the night. Perretta himself would bookend his night with a spirited bout to wrap up the 7-4 victory for FDNY.
The game which delivered excitement seemingly nonstop from puck drop to the final whistle was the perfect pre-amble to the NHL season and a great way to get the blood pumping and adrenaline flowing.
If you were not able to catch the action, the game is available on ESPN On Demand and is a must watch.