The Skatin’ Rebels returned to City National Arena with a warm welcome from UNLV’s Greek Life, while sweeping Grand Canyon for the second time.
Friday night’s game was the final Greek Life night of the season, giving the Rebels a filled arena to cheer them on to their 3-2 victory.
“I like the student involvement and seeing everyone come down to watch these games,” Samuel Wayman, a Lambda Chi Alpha member said. “It’s a great atmosphere and being able to see the outcome we’re able to have for events like this. “I’ll for sure be here for all future games. It’s fun watching the team and all of the guys play.”
For Saturday night’s game, the Rebels partnered with St. Jude – Nevada for UNLV Hockey fights childhood cancer night to help raise funds and awareness for the organization where the team had a 6-3 victory.
Game One, Feb. 18
The Skatin’ Rebels pushed through a hard-fought battle to overcome the Grand Canyon Antelopes for a 3-2 win, welcoming fans back into City National.
Zach Wickson started in the net for the Rebels, while Scott Kasaboski was in between the poles for the Antelopes to end his college career with this final series.
The game began with a slow start for UNLV with the Antelopes landing their way on the scoreboard first. Lead scorer Jacob Cummings shot the puck into the back of the net, assisted by Nate Mohr.
It didn’t take long for the Rebels to pick up the pace, tying the score at 1. Luke Burke slipped the puck behind Kasaboski with assists coming from Alec Johnson and Ezekiel Estrada.
GCU’s Griffin Duinick was quickly sent to the penalty box with two minutes for holding, putting the Rebels on a power-play.
Bradley Golant took advantage and scored against Kasaboski to take the lead for UNLV, with Max Johnson and Cole Wyatt assisting for the 2-1 lead.
GCU continued to take penalties, with Blake Billings entering the box, for roughing for two minutes, 14:24 into the period. Ty Schafer followed Billings into the box with two minutes of his own for hooking.
With the two man advantage on the ice, the Rebels scored again to extend the lead to 3-1. Max Johnson earned the goal, assisted by Golant and Wyatt.
The goal would be the final one of the period, and the final one for the Rebels. UNLV outshot the Antelopes 23-13, keeping possession of the puck throughout the period.
Going into the second period, GCU brought in more momentum, keeping the Rebels on their toes defensively.
Justin Rudyk assisted Kory Potach in a goal 9:55 into the period, shortening the scarlet and gray lead to 3-2.
With three minutes left in the period, Estrada served five minutes in the penalty box due to Sean Plonski getting ejected from the ice after a major game misconduct for spearing.
Despite the Antelopes attempts at tying the game during the third period, they were unsuccessful, resulting in the Rebels 3-2 victory.
“[GCU] was clogging the ice and taking away the perimeter, and we didn’t do a good job of getting the puck at the back of the net,” head coach Anthony Vigineri-Greener said. “I’m not happy with how we played. We shouldn’t be satisfied and the kids know that. We’re going to come back tomorrow and bounce back.”
Overall, the Rebels outshot the Antelopes 49-38.
Three Stars of the Night
Golant took the first star of the night with one goal and one assist.
Max Johnson was named the second star of the night, with his one goal and one assist.
Wyatt earned third star with two assists.
Game Two, Feb. 19
The Skatin’ Rebels defeated the Grand Canyon Antelopes 6-3 for the third win in a row, and to sweep the Antelopes.
Going into the game, Vince Benedetto started in the net for the Rebels while Kasaboski remained the goaltender for GCU.
The first period started slightly for UNLV compared to the previous night with Alec Johnson passing the puck over to Cole Wyatt who nudged it behind Kasaboski for the first goal of the night. The Rebels were up 1-0.
After swapping possession of the puck a few times, Potach managed to score on Benedetto with an assist coming from Rudyk to tie the game.
The Rebels were barely able to outshoot the Antelopes in the first period, 13-11.
The slow period had a slow start for both teams, with UNLV relying heavily on its defense.
Brian Potvin entered the penalty box for tripping 11 minutes into the period, putting the Rebels on a power-play.
As the Rebels continued to play defensively, they were unable to capitalize with the advantage.
Instead, GCU put extra pressure on Benedetto, Callum Tomlin scored a shorthanded goal to give the Antelopes a 2-1 lead. The goal would give the Antelopes their first and only lead of the series.
Towards the end of the period, the Rebels began to pick up the momentum and play more offensively.
Jayson Dimizio helped increase the momentum with a goal assisted by Jake Berry at 16:25, tying the game once again.
With five seconds left on the clock, Angelos Tsalafos took a hard hit from one of the Antelopes before immediately skating up the net where he managed to knock in the puck from an assist by Berry and Brenden Fehlig for a new score of 4-2.
UNLV was outshot for the period 12-8.
After the intermission break, the Rebels returned to the ice and began playing together demonstrating an improvement in performance compared to the rest of the series.
“It’s tough to describe why we played better,” Dimizio said. “I thought we really only played a lot better was in the third period. We woke up and played as a team and stopped the individual stuff we’ve done in the past and hopefully we can keep that going.”
The Antelopes still managed to get on the scoreboard with a goal from Mohr, assists coming from Duininck and Mason Kruse to bring the score to 4-3.
It didn’t take long after that goal for the Rebels to score again. UNLV’s fourth line began playing in sync with their passes and opening up more opportunities for scoring.
Nick Flanders sent the puck behind Kasaboski, assisted by his linemates Michael Boutoussov and Bradley Golant.
The three boys celebrated in front of a screaming crowd as the Antelopes began to feel the defeat.
Less than a minute later, Max Johnson scored once again for the Rebels assisted by Wyatt.
With this game being the end to Grand Canyon’s season, the intensity grew on the ice with more penalties coming from both teams.
Billings entered the penalty box with two minutes to go, for elbowing 11 minutes into the period.
A minute later, Max Johnson stepped off the ice with a major game misconduct for elbowing one of the Antelopes in the head. His penalty was served by Burke with five minutes in the box.
Seconds after Max Johnson’s ejection, Estrada scored the final goal of the night assisted by Dimizio and Berry to end the night with a 6-3 victory.
Following the goal, there were eight penalties shared between the two teams as the Antelopes’ season came to an end. Overall the Rebels outshot GCU 42-38.
Three Stars of the Night
Dimizio earned himself the first star after his goal to tie the goal and his one assist.
Wyatt was named second star with his one goal and an assist.
Berry took the third star with his three assists of the night.
The Skatin’ Rebels take a week off for another bye week next weekend before returning to City National Arena March 4 and 5 to end their regular season against Oregon.
The weekend will be alumni weekend with a 7:30 p.m. puck drop for both games.
Another great article! The boys did great this weekend.