Las Vegas Sun

October 24, 2014

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Ron Kantowski cools off with valley firefighters and policemen who face off on the ice for a game of hockey

It just might be the coolest name for a sporting event since "The Thrilla in Manila."

"Guns & Hoses." Cops and firemen playing hockey. Or at least skating around the Fiesta Rancho's SoBe Ice Arena with sticks in their hands on a Saturday night.

This, I think, taking a position near the penalty box, I gotta see.

The Guns skate onto the ice to The Who's "Who Are You," the theme to TV's "CSI." The Hoses enter to The Von Bondies' "C'mon, C'mon" - the theme to TV's firehouse drama-comedy "Rescue Me."

"Which one is Proby?" a wiseguy cracks.

Proby, one of the characters in "Rescue Me" who plays for the FDNY hockey team, isn't in uniform. Neither is Ken Quinney, one of the characters for the defunct Las Vegas Thunder, although he is listed in the program.

Quinney, who scored 55 goals for the International Hockey League's Thunder during their debut in 1993-94, became a Las Vegas fireman after he retired from pro hockey and usually plays left wing for the Hoses. But he hurt his knee and won't be sliding down the pole for a while.

A standing-room only crowd doesn't seem to mind that the rich and almost famous are missing. They cheer these real-life heroes as if they were the Montreal Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings battling in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.

And if you think "heroes" is too strong a word, guess again. The Hoses' Jason Sera, a North Las Vegas fireman, isn't playing because he is still fighting that hellish propane fire north of town. Teammates Nick Robison and Anthony Bonifatto were doing that the night before.

The puck is dropped. Despite the fact there are no Canadians and nobody from Minnesota taking a shift, Southern Nevada's Finest and Bravest do a decent job of knocking the puck around.

They do a better job of knocking each other around.

After a scoreless first period, the Cops take a 2-0 lead. "Two-nothin' is the hardest lead in hockey to protect," says a paramedic on the bench, trying to inspire his teammates.

Thirty seconds later, the Guns score again, on a penalty shot.

Three-nuthin' is a little easier to protect.

The Guns win, 3-2. Nobody gets arrested or uses their hatchets. High sticks and elbows are another matter.

"Hockey is a macho game and being a policeman or a fireman is a macho occupation," said Bob Strumm, the former Thunder general manager and current director of pro scouting for the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets, as he watched from the balcony.

No, he wasn't on assignment. Strumm still makes his home in Las Vegas. In need of a hockey fix, he stopped by the Fiesta hoping to see Quinney.

"I have the utmost respect for those guys," Strumm said as the cops and firemen laid it all on the (blue) line.

Afterward, Elliott Jones, a defenseman for the firefighters who once minded the net for the Tucson Gila Monsters of the Western Hockey League, said the friendly rivals have "had their moments."

Sometimes, they serve and protect. Other times, they fight. Usually, they just swear a lot and needle each other, like sailors on leave and Betsy Ross.

"They give us a hard time about sitting around (the firehouse) in our recliners," Jones said. "We tell them that if they had just scored 20 points higher on the test, they could have been firemen, too."

But the Guns & Hoses have agreed to put down their nightsticks and bury their hatchets. They are literally joining forces to form an all-star hockey team for the 2007 World Police and Fire Games in Adelaide, Australia, in March.

That was the purpose for playing hockey on a 105-degree day. Guns & Hoses has raised more than $80,000 for charities such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and the Injured Police Officers Fund in memory of Henry Prendes, the Metro sergeant killed in the line of duty in February. But this time, they played for themselves. Proceeds from Saturday's game and post-game party will be put into the Qantas kitty.

"Even though we're quite competitive with each other, we're going to show we can skate and play together," said 45-year-old Allen Hanners, a Metro detective and nine-year "Guns" veteran.

One of the civil servants already seems to be making the transition. Whereas the other players had their last names stitched onto their jerseys, Hoses goalie Tony Alfieri had a nickname usually reserved for the cops put on his:

"BAGGADONUTS," it read.

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