Rebel Hockey, Golden Knights Honor Officer Shay Mikalonis at Charity Game

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Officer Shay Mikalonis is pushed onto the ice by his step-father Patrick Neville, brother Chaz, and father Guy Mikalonis. Photo by Kayla Faasse.

UNLV Rebel Hockey and the Vegas Golden Knights hosted the Skate For Shay charity game in honor of injured police officer Shay Mikalonis Friday night.

The event sold out in the first hour of ticket sales opening. Over 500 people attended the game to support Mikalonis and his family. All proceeds will go to the Injured Police Officers Fund to be put on hold for Mikalonis and his family in the event the family needs more money.

Mikalonis was injured in a shooting at a protest in Downtown Las Vegas in June 2020. The gunman, 20-year-old Edgar Samaniego, was charged with attempted murder and battery with a deadly weapon. Samaniego requested to lower his bail, however, the judge denied that request.

Mikalonis suffered a severe spinal injury and spent months at a rehabilitation facility in Colorado. Mikalonis is paralyzed from the neck down, yet he can still speak. 

Mikalonis’s appearance at the game marks his first public appearance since the shooting. Officer Mikalonis came onto the ice with his family and Golden Knights forward Max Pacioretty for the ceremonial puck drop.

“He’s beat the odds,” Mikalonis’s step-father Patrick Neville said. “It’s not an easy walk down the road, but he’s still going forward.”

The initial purpose of the event was a standard firefighter and police charity game to benefit the UNLV Hockey program. However, when Mikalonis was shot in 2020, the idea shifted from a game benefitting the Skatin’ Rebels program to a greater purpose.

Photo from Kayla Faasse.

“My original idea was: why don’t we do a charity hockey game and have hockey as the charity?” event organizer Mike Tomko said. “Then, everything happened with Shay, so now we have our cause.”

Mikalonis and his brother Chaz both played hockey in Las Vegas when they were kids. 

“We started from a really young age,” Chaz said. “We always played in all kinds of leagues growing up.”

Both had their love of the sport passed to them by their father, Guy Mikalonis. 

“I grew up in Detroit and I was a big hockey fan, and I brought it with me,” Chaz added.

The game was highlighted by appearances of local hero and former Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland, along with Henderson Silver Knights forward and Las Vegas native Gage Quinney and Golden Knights on-screen personality and former Boston Bruins defenceman Shane Hnidy. 

Firefighters and police officers from around the Valley joined the three aforementioned players, along with UNLV hockey alumni and current players, and a handful of American Hockey League, ECHL and overseas players. 

A high-tempo game was played between the two teams for all three periods. High energy, north-south hockey led to a total of 13 goals scored between the two teams, with Team Hnidy squeezing out a 7-6 win over Team Engelland. 

UNLV Hockey returns to the ice Sept. 4 at City National Arena for another scrimmage at 7 p.m., before kicking off their season on Oct. 1 against Illinois.

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