Don’t puck with us!
Dem fightin’ words will be flying across the ice like a runaway Zamboni this weekend when New York smoke-eaters and their counterparts from Russia lace up their skates for a friendlier version of the Cold War at the Aviator Sports and Events Center, where the “Battles On Ice” exhibition ice hockey tournament will usher in Russian Heritage Week.
The clash will pit the FDNY Hockey Team against a unit of firefighters from the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations (Russia’s equivalent of our Federal Emergency Management Agency), with plenty of former world-class ice Goliaths on both sides to add to the excitement, including former New York Rangers Ron Duguay, Ron Greschner and Chris Kotsopoulos; former New Jersey Devil Valeri Kamensky; and former Boston Bruin Alexei Kasatonov; and Alexander “The Big Yak” Yakushev, who played with Team Canada in the famous 1972 Summit Series.
Come prepared to hoot n’ holler on Saturday evening when the FDNY faces-off against the former-reds, followed by a Sunday afternoon showdown between the “Legends of USSR” and the “FDNY/NHL Alumni” teams.
It’s the first ice hockey match ever between the FDNY and the Russians, and proceeds will benefit the New York Police and Fire Widows and Children’s Fund.
The Russian legends aren’t arriving from Moscow until Sunday, and whether or not their jet-lag will give us an advantage remains to be seen, even though the FDNY team isn’t anticipating any ice-shattering upsets.
“Firemen are firemen, it’s not too difficult to get along, we have a lot in common,” said the FDNY General Manager William Kammerer. “There’s not much competition, just camaraderie,”
The good cheer will continue through next week with a scrimmage match between the newly-minted rink allies, capped by a visit to the Russian Embassy in Manhattan for another lively contest of sorts — cocktail hour.
The prospect of a friendly game and a cool tribute to 9-11 heroes will likely dissolve any lingering frosty memories between the two nations.
“This is about people coming together to form new friendships and remember the tragic events that happened,” said Rina Kirshner, vice president of the Russian American Foundation, which is behind the festival.
Oh, and lest you think the NHL darlings will steal FDNY’s thunder, think again.
Gotham’s blaze-gobblers have trounced Duguay and company on more than one occasion, and traveled across the nation and around the world to play in exhibition matches for charity.
Battles on Ice at Aviator Sports Complex [Flatbush Avenue near Aviation Road in Marine Park, (718) 758-7500]. Saturday at 7:30 pm. and Sunday at 2 pm. Tickets are $50 (and $40 for FDNY and NYPD with badges) and can be purchased at Glavs Travel [3171 Coney Island Ave. between Brighton 10th and Brighton 11th streets, (718) 615-1617] in Brighton Beach, or online at ExtremeTix.com. For info, visit www.aviatorsports.com.