Liberty University hosts Skatin’ Rebels for annual Midnight Madness game during two-game series

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Alec Johnson controlling the puck outside the neutral zone. Johnson scored the game-winning goal in the shootout. Photo by Jordan Anders-McClain.

The UNLV Skatin’ Rebels (13-2) hit the road for a two-game series against the Liberty University Flames (12-7) on January 20th and 21st. 

Game One, Jan. 20

The UNLV Skatin’ Rebels defeated their rivals, the Liberty Flames 3-2, in a shootout Friday.

This game featured a goaltending matchup between Landon Pavlisin (0.936) and Hunter Virostek (0.915). 

During the first period, UNLV Skatin’ Rebels received the first powerplay of the game at 2:10 when the Flames’ Jackson Vercellano went to the penalty box with a two-minute minor for slashing. 

About one minute into the powerplay, UNLV would see their first goal of the night as Alec Johnson scored off a wrist shot above the circle coming from an assist from Cole Wyatt at 3:09.

As the Flames looked to fight back into the game, forward Josh Fricks went to check Rebel forward Riley Jenson, but missed and came down awkwardly on his neck. This immediately drew the attention of both teams’ medical staff. 

After a long TV timeout, the camera came back into focus on Fricks being transported off the ice by medical personnel. By this point, there was a huddle of Flames players praying for the health and safety of their teammate. Goalie Landon Pavlisin was the first Rebel to join them in prayer. 

Both benches were clearly shaken up about the injury, after the game when asked about the importance of that moment Coach Vignieri Greener said “First off, you want to make sure that the kid is okay, hockey is such a small part of life. After he left the ice you have to regroup as a coach, as a staff, then as a team. We have to reign the boys in and express that we can only control the controllables, let’s get back to work and stick to our game plan.” 

The game started once more featuring a fast-paced offense from Liberty University resulting in a goal for the Flames, scored by Brett Gammer off a rebound from a long-range shot let go by Kristopher Bladen with just about nine minutes remaining in the first period. 

As the clock started to die down on a wild first period the Rebels took the lead in the game with a hard net drive by Jayson Dimizio. This would result in Jaedin Ness’s second goal in two games at 18:25 into the period. With this, the Skatin’ Rebels carried a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. 

Kicking off the second period the Flames came out firing looking for the equalizer, but it was not to be found early as they had to kill off a penalty early against the Rebels. Shortly after the kill, the Flames would find the first powerplay of their own (7:09). 

They also found the equalizer here, making a 2-2 game off of a deflection from Daniel Schwenke (7:57). The initial shot came off the stick of Jacob Kalandyk so he would record the assist. 

In the third period, despite a back-and-forth period of hockey, the Skatin’ Rebels and the Liberty Flames would head into overtime and the game would ultimately end in a shootout.  

Cole Wyatt and Lazarus Kaebel were able to find the back of the net in the first three rounds for their respective side. Then in round 4 of the shootout, a save by Pavlisin allowed Alec Johnson to score on a beautiful shot low blocker side to lead the UNLV Skatin’ Rebels to a 3-2 victory. 

When asked about his thoughts during that moment Alec went on to say “I try to take it wide and get the goalie off angle and when I get close I’m looking to shoot low and whatever corner I can see the most”

THREE STARS:

  1.  ALEC JOHNSON: 1 REGULATION GOAL, SHOOTOUT WINNER
  1.  LANDON PAVLISON: .956 SAVE %
  1.  COLE WYATT: 1 ASSIST

The UNLV Skatin’ Rebels capped off their two-game series with a Midnight Madness game at Liberty on Saturday. 

Game Two, Jan. 21

The Skatin’ Rebels swept the Liberty Flames, winning the second match  6-2 in Saturday’s Midnight Madness game.  

The second game in this series featured a goaltending matchup of UNLV’s Landon Pavlisin (0.939) against Liberty’s own Jackson Glassford (0.866).

The Skatin’ Rebels came out with a roaring start dominating the early going, leading in shot attempts 6-1.

With the Rebels’ pressure, they were able to draw a pair of penalties, one for tripping and another for interference, resulting in a powerplay goal for the Skatin’ Rebels. The goal came off a rebound in front after a long-range wrist shot from Jaxsen Wyatt and potted by Max Johnson. The Rebels would lead 1-0

The Flames were looking to answer with a massive momentum shift of their own. The Flames got one when their offense was able to generate multiple chances and a powerplay opportunity of their own and managed to tie up the game. 

The second period in Virginia was an exciting start. Tempers began to flare between both teams. After the first stoppage of the period, words were exchanged between players leading to a brawl between multiple Skatin’ Rebels and Flames players. 

After the exchange was said and done, Rebel forward Jayson DiMizio was ejected from the game for grabbing another player’s face mask resulting however still resulting in a Rebels powerplay. 

The Skatin’ Rebels would lead 2-1 when Jake Berry scored off a faceoff win from Cole Wyatt during that short powerplay.

The Rebels continued pressure would prove a vital ally just four minutes later. Azzaro Tinling would pot his 8th of the season (10:43) and first of the night, off assists from defensemen Alec Johnson and Hunter Muzzillo giving the Rebels a 3-1 lead.

In the dying moments of the second period, defenseman Mattias Dal Monte laid a stretch pass on the stick of Riley Jensen, who scored on the breakaway to give the Rebels a 4-1 lead heading into the second intermission. 

In the final 20 minutes of hockey, each team found the back of the net, including goals from Skatin’ Rebels forward Wyatt and forward Azzaro Tinling. The Flames would also see another goal from their defenseman Laz Kaebel. The UNLV Skatin’ Rebels would win this game with a score of 6-2. 

The Rebels will move to 15-2 with the series sweep, and the Liberty Flames will fall to 12-9. 

THREE STARS:

  1.  LANDON PAVLISON: .961 SAVE %
  1.  AZZARO TINLING: 2 GOALS
  1.  COLE WYATT: 1 GOAL, 1 ASSIST

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