The tightly packed arena was filled with a mix of screaming fans and parents cheering on their young stars. The energy inside of City National Arena increased every period as the UNLV Skatin’ Rebels defeated Arizona 3-2.
Brenden Fehlig took his first step onto the ice as a Rebel on Oct. 23, 2022, marking his first time playing in front of a huge home crowd.
“Growing up playing hockey in Vegas, I’ve never played in front of fans,” Fehlig said. “You don’t play in front of anybody. We get so many people that come out and support us for a club hockey team so it’s pretty cool.”
Fehlig’s first goal as a Skatin’ Rebel came four weeks later during a road game against Grand Canyon University, where he scored early in the second period to give UNLV the lead.
The next night, Fehlig scored once again being the first scarlet and gray player to make the scoreboard. With both of his goals from the series, UNLV swept Grand Canyon to continue their winning streak.
“I’ve never experienced anything like that,” Fehlig said, “so it’s pretty nice to score a goal and to hear people actually cheering for you or you know you lay a big hit. We feed off of the fans and it’s amazing to hear them get as into the games as we do.”
So far through his first season with UNLV, he has scored two goals with two assists for a total of four points throughout his 10 games.
Being a Vegas native, Fehlig took extra joy in being able to finally play as a UNLV Rebel in front of his home city and his entire family.
“It’s kind of crazy the way the cards fell,” Fehlig expressed. “I was actually gonna play somewhere else and then COVID hit so that didn’t really happen.”
“Being a local growing up here, I’ve known coach Robone and coach Greener for a while now. I would come out when I was still out in the junior leagues and do their Rebel training camp. So I did that for the past two or three years and then this year I kind of just stuck around instead of leaving.”
Fehlig was born in Michigan, where his dad grew up playing hockey. His family moved out to Las Vegas when he was two years old. Three years later, Fehlig was following in his dad’s footsteps playing hockey in the desert.
For the first few years, Fehlig played under his dad as his coach, learning all of the skills needed to continue playing in higher leagues.
“You’re the coach’s son, so you kind of get looked at differently but I loved it,” Fehlig expressed. “Coaching advice I’ve gotten from my dad is one of his biggest sayings, ‘don’t waste a day.’”
Before coming to UNLV, Fehlig played in the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) where he was a part of the Texas Roadrunners during 2019-2020.
During his time with the Roadrunners, he played in 24 games, tallying a total of 14 goals with 12 assists for 26 total points.
After the Roadrunners, Fehlig went to Wisconsin to play for the Coulee Region Chill, earning four goals and 11 assists during his time there.
Fehlig has played hockey for a total of 17 years, with his favoriteGolden Knight player being Mark Stone as he tries to style his game after Stones’.
Since becoming a Rebel, Fehlig has been able to improve on his first three steps with the help of competing and playing with quicker-paced guys.
“That’s my biggest flaw in my game is my first three steps, so I think playing with faster guys and better competition kind of drives me to get a little bit quicker. I still don’t think I’m quite there but I think I’ve improved since the beginning of the year.”
The Skatin’ Rebels are on a 16-game winning streak, as they prepare to take on Liberty in the next series.
Fans can watch Fehlig hit the ice in his black and red Rebel uniform through a live stream link on Youtube as UNLV takes on Liberty in Virginia with puck drop at 7 p.m. EST on Jan. 28 and 11:59 p.m. EST on Jan. 29.
“Just the feeling it’s like- that’s my stress reliever. That’s what I do when I’m feeling anxious or stressed out from school like everything just turns off and it’s just hockey so it’s fun… I want to play as long as I can. It’s always been the goal. Ride it till it ends.”