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Before senior Angelos Tsalafos steps out onto the ice for a game, it’s routine that he gets a good luck text from his mom.
After spending four years with the Rebels, Tsalafos admits that as time has gone on he’s become more flexible with his game day routine as he takes in all of his final moments in the scarlet and gray.
“I find that your routine should be really flexible because if you have a set routine and it doesn’t go your way and it gets disrupted–it throws you off,” Tsalafos said. “That’s why I think you have to be really flexible with your routine. I’m super laid back now.”
Tsalafos makes sure he gets eight or nine hours of sleep before waking up in the morning, but an alarm isn’t always set to make sure he gets up in time.
One of the most consistent parts of his morning is the breakfast: three scrambled eggs, with either prosciutto or pancetta, cheese, spinach, tomatoes, and mushrooms along with a bagel with cream cheese and fruit including strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries.
On game days, Tsalafos eats every two-three hours.
After breakfast, he will relax in his apartment and work on some homework. When the time comes to eat again, he’ll eat something small like a protein bar.
By the time lunch rolls around, Tsalafos will have a turkey and cheese sandwich with a salad.
Depending on how tired he feels, he’ll usually take a nap before going to the rink. After his nap he’ll take a shower, and if he doesn’t shower at his apartment then he’ll shower at the rink once he gets there.
Tsalafos always has to eat three hours prior to puck drop, most of the time that’ll fall at 4:30 p.m. with a 7:30 p.m. puck drop for the home games.
“It’s always three hours on the dot, so like on the road we’ll usually eat early but I’ll take my food to my room and eat it later,” Tsalafos said. “I’ll usually have Chipotle if I’m too lazy to cook, if not, I have salmon with rice and quinoa and broccoli.”
Typically, he’ll carpool with his teammates, depending who’s available for a ride he’ll tag along with Hunter Muzzillo and Brendan Manning or with defenseman Jake Berry to City National Arena.
Once he gets to the rink, Tsalafos will tape his stick before changing into a pair of spandex pants and a top to wear under all the hockey gear.
“Sometimes I listen to music and sometimes I don’t–and the music fluctuates,” Tsalafos said. “I could literally listen to jazz music or something that’s common or I could listen to EDM music with crazy drops. I’m not picky.”
Before the game, Tsalafos will buy a black iced coffee before the game at the rink. He’ll drink three quarters of it before the game and “as the periods go on, [he’ll] take little sips just to keep it going.”
While at City National Arena, the team will start their off-ice warm-ups to stretch out their bodies and prepare for the upcoming game.
“I’m one of the guys that does my own warm-up because like I do these activations where you kind of rub parts of your body. There’s like trigger points to activate your muscles. So, I do that and then I roll out with a foam roller,” Tsalafos said.
After stretching out for a bit, Tsalafos likes to take a moment to step back and take everything in. As a senior, the countdown to his final games as a Rebel are around the corner.
“My hockey career is almost over. I just like to enjoy the moment more so I’ll sit outside. If it’s a nice evening, I’ll just sit there and soak up everything,” Tsalafos said. “I’ll usually just sit outside in the back, there’s a net there with fake ice, sometimes I’ll shoot around, sometimes I won’t. I think the big part of my routine now is just being mindful of everything going on.”
Most of the time, he’ll avoid listening to music to help him relax as he lives in the moment and cherishes his last games with the Skatin’ Rebels.
Before coming to UNLV, before every game Tsalafos and his mom would always do a right fist bump and then a left first bump. It’s a tradition they’ve carried over to his college career even though she hasn’t had a chance to watch him play in-person yet as a Rebel.
Now before the games, he will receive a text from his mom along the lines of “Have an amazing game. I love you. Right bump left bump.”
“I’m very close with my mom. I’m a momma’s boy, yeah,” Tsalafos said. “My mom watches all my games, and she’s three hours ahead, so yeah it’s pretty late for her, but she hasn’t missed a game.”
Tsalafos will return to the locker room 10 minutes before the team hits the ice for the on-ice portion of warm-ups, and he’ll get dressed at the last minute so he can go straight from the locker room to the ice.
As a senior on the team, he will keep his warm-ups pretty relaxed as he tries not to break a sweat.
Tsalafos will do his own pre-game on the ice, which includes some stick handling with the puck to get a feel for it before the game.
After 30 minutes of warm-ups, it’s time for the game to begin. The starting lineups will be announced on the ice, and then the national anthem will be sung before puck-drop. During the anthem, Tsalafos will say a prayer and make a cross on his chest before kissing the cross on his chain.
As the puck is being dropped for the game, Tsalafos will fist bump head coach Anthony Vignieri-Greener to conclude his pre-game routine.
Tsalafos and the Skatin’ Rebels return to action after a bye week to host the Oregon Ducks March 4 and 5 at City National Arena, with a 7:30 p.m. puck drop. This will be UNLV’s final regular season series before the ACHA National Tournament.