After the 2020 meeting between the two first responder clubs was cancelled due to COVID-19, both teams and their fans were eager to resume one of the city’s few hockey traditions this year.
The pre-game ceremonies honored the 20th Anniversary of September 11th. The game was broadcast on ESPN2 with John Buccigross providing commentary alongside former New York Rangers Kevin Weekes and Ryan Callahan, the first New York-born Blueshirts captain.
Glendale native Matt Zay, of Engine Company 216 tallied two big goals for the FDNY, earning team MVP honors. Zay played four years at NCAA Division I Mercyhurst College, serving as team captain in his senior year, before playing two seasons in NHL-affiliated minor leagues before becoming a firefighter.
“I played in some nice rinks in college but nothing like The Garden,” Zay said. “There’s really nothing that compares to it.”
Zay’s college teammate Dan O’Donoghue, a Long Island native, skated for the police, as did several police officers with pro or college experience, including Elmhurst native Rob Carbone and ex-Brooklyn Aviator Andrew Scampoli. Kevin Pflumm, a former college club goalie at the University of Delaware, was the winning goalie in net for the FDNY.
“(O’Donoghue) was as close as you can get to playing in the NHL, and now we’re facing off at The Garden for our respective departments,” Zay said.
“Both teams have a lot of talent and passion like nothing you’ve ever seen.”