Forward Angelos Tsalafos says farewell to the Skatin’ Rebels after wearing the scarlet and gray uniform for four years and in 73 games.
Born and raised in Canada, Tsalafos stuck to his roots and began playing hockey at 4 years old.
“Where I live, it’s either you play hockey or soccer. To be honest, those are the two main sports,” Tsalafos said. “It’s funny that I chose hockey because my family all came from professional soccer players.”
Growing up, Tsalafos played soccer in the fall and hockey in the winter. It wasn’t until his senior year of high school where he had to make the decision of which one he’d like to pursue.
“I’ll be honest, I was actually a more talented soccer player,” Tsalafos said. “Soccer was so much easier for me. I didn’t have to put a lot of work into it- versus hockey. I had to put a lot more effort and work into becoming a better hockey player.”
At the end of the day, Tsalafos chose to stick with hockey because he had just made the higher-level team for it.
“I was always making the highest level possible for soccer, so it was kind of like okay,” Tsalafos said. “To make the highest level possible for hockey was crazy. I was one of the youngest kids on the team, so I had to stick with it.”
Before joining the Rebels, Tsalafos played a few years of juniors including a couple in Canada and a season in the United States.
Coming to UNLV, Tsalafos decided to major in psychology with a minor in history.
“I actually saw a psychologist when I was in my junior year of high school because I was going through some obstacles related to hockey,” Tsalafos said. “After we finished our sessions, I was super intrigued because I saw how much better I became over time. I just became really interested in psychology.”
Tsalafos became a Skatin’ Rebel for the 2018-19 season, racking up 23 games played with two goals and five assists for seven total points. He also played in two playoff games for UNLV.
In his sophomore year, Tsalafos made 23 games with six goals and eight assists before the season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The following year, the Rebels’ hockey season was canceled. The team didn’t get to participate in any competitive games in the league.
“We were still practicing once a week and there were still opportunities for the team to bond,” Tsalafos said. “Honestly, we’re back to normal now. Everything last year was odd but we still practiced.”
Coming into his final season with the Rebels, Angelos has helped the team see some success throughout the season.
Along with a 16-game winning streak at one point in the season, the Rebels entered the Chicago Classic as the underdogs and returned to Vegas as the champions.
Throughout the tournament, they managed to defeat three top teams to bring home the trophy including two of Tsalafos’ favorite opponents.
He enjoyed playing games against Minot and Liberty and the challenging atmosphere the two teams created.
“They’re just good hockey teams. They work hard,” Tsalafos said. “They play the game the right way. I just admire their coaches- they’re very good coaches and they run really good teams. Whenever we play them, it’s always a fun time. I love playing against those two teams.”
The Skatin’ Rebels entered the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) National Tournament as the No. 4 seed. From there, UNLV managed to make it to the final four of the tournament, a first for the program.
“Obviously from my first year, we’ve had so many different teams,” Tsalafos said. “It was special to be a part of it this year and to go that far in Nationals.”
“Like I said- I thought we could win it all and unfortunately that’s going to be a time that I’m not playing anymore but I’m gonna be happy to know that I contributed to make the program what it is today. I’ll be cheering them on from wherever I am.”
Tsalafos ended his career with the scarlet and gray with 25 games played, four goals, and four assists for his final season.
“I was already under the impression that we were already pretty recognized,” Tsalafos said. “But I do think now that a lot of people are taking notice and it’s gonna be good for the future of this program.”
Tsalafos will cherish every memory he’s made as a Rebel as he prepares to say his goodbyes to the team after graduation.
Message for Incoming Skatin’ Rebels
“Just have fun. Absorb everything Las Vegas has to offer,” Tsalafos said. “Don’t restrict yourself to just familiarizing yourself with your teammates, become friends with other people around campus- whether that’s someone in your class or a member of another sports team or organization, whatever it may be, just branch off. Make sure you network with various people, and enjoy the moment because it goes by so fast.”