JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – First responders hit the ice Saturday night before the Jacksonville Icemen game.
Members of the local police and fire departments battled it out to raise money for charity in the annual Guns and Hoses hockey game, facing off at Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena.
It's a friendly rivalry between police and firefighters, but make no mistake: It's still a rivalry.
The Gonzalez family came out to support the Hoses, but there was also a lot of support for the Guns.
“It was a fun event -- very interesting,” said Priscilla Gonzalez, who said she was rooting for the firefighters. “You know, (there was) lots of support for both.”
There was a lot of anticipation, as well.
“We've been waiting to play this game for a year,” said Daniel Perrotti, the captain of the “Guns” team. “It's very special for both teams to be involved in this.”
This is the sixth year for this game, which benefits Jacksonville Fire and Rescue and the Fraternal Order of Police charities.
Many of the proceeds will go to help support the family of Brian McCluney, one of two firefighters lost at sea over the summer.
McCluney served JFRD for six years. He left Port Canaveral for a fishing trip and, despite an exhaustive search, never returned home.
This event honors him -- and it honors a respectful long-time rivalry between police and fire.
"We love doing events like this,” said Stephen Myers, the captain of the “Hoses” team. “Most of us play together in the men's league where you cannot check and have contact, so this is the opportunity we have once a year to get out there and bang on the boards a little bit. And it's a lot of fun.”
He added, "Most people, once they see a live hockey game, get hooked on this game. It's the best game in the world to play.”
This year, the Guns won, final score 3-2. That evens the “series” at three games a piece.
“It was a great game,” said Diego Gonzalez, who was rooting for the firefighters. “We were ahead the whole time, except for the last two minutes. That's the way it goes.”
The Jacksonville Iceman played the Orlando Solar Bears after the charity game. Proceeds from the 50/50 raffle at both games will go to the McCluney family.