FDNY's Clifford Zeilman (2), Tom Reno, center, and Joe Strobel...

FDNY's Clifford Zeilman (2), Tom Reno, center, and Joe Strobel (11), celebrate a first-period goal. (April 9, 2011) Credit: John Dunn

About 20,000 fans and supporters flocked to the Nassau Coliseum Saturday to see one of the fiercest rivalries in the tri-state area -- an annual hockey game between New York police and firemen.

The charity game between FDNY's Bravest and NYPD's Finest was an opening act for the World Police & Fire Games, which Games official Jim Carney calls "the largest amateur athletic event in the world."

New York beat out Orlando, Fla., to host this year's event, which will be held Aug. 26 through Sept. 5. In 2013, the Games will be played in Belfast.

"We expect about 18,000 athletes and to infuse more than $150 million into the New York City-area economy," said Carney, who has a house in Hampton Bays.

There are 69 events, a dozen of which will be held on Long Island, including hockey in Long Beach, bowling in East Meadow, and sporting clays and traps in Manorville.

The Games are held every two years and are open to active and retired law enforcement and fire service people from around the world.

Yesterday, red-clad FDNY fans seemed to outnumber those in NYPD blue, as children -- and some adults -- scampered about hours before the hockey game.

Victoria Catapano of Port Washington was there with her NYPD boyfriend, Brant Martinez.

"He tried out for the team two years ago but didn't make it," she said. "So now we're here for the sport of it."

In the morning, in a King of the Ice game, Engine 65-Engine 14 beat Engine 255-Ladder 157 in an FDNY elimination tournament.

"We're not a B Team, but we're not the A Team, either. They play this afternoon," Michael Terriberry of Maspeth, Queens, said, showing off his team's gold-colored trophy.

FDNY's A Team beat the police 6-5 in overtime, boosting their record in the rivalry to 21-15-2.

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