Rebel Hockey looks for another sweep against ASU in Phoenix

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Hunter Muzzillo (26) skates down the ice during the game against Arizona on Oct. 23, 2021. Photo by Kayla Faasse

The Skatin’ Rebels (21-4) hit the road after their bye week to take on the Arizona State Sun Devils (10-13) for the second match-up of the year. 

The last time these two teams faced off was right before the holiday break, where UNLV dominated the series for a sweep over ASU to end 2021 on a high note. 

“Nothing changes for us,” head coach Anthony Vignieri-Greenr said. “Kind of just focus on ourselves which we have in the past. All of a sudden they have a new coach and their systems might change but we did our pre-scout on them on Tuesday but mainly just focus on us.”

The Rebels’ entire fourth line finished the series with six points each. 

UNLV won the first game 8-1, with Michael Boutoussov scoring two goals. Nick Flanders ended the night with one goal and one assist, while Bradley Golant ended it off with one assist. 

Entering the second game, the three forwards continued to show off their skills with more scoring opportunities. The Rebels won the game 7-3 to sweep ASU. 

This time around, Boutoussov scored one goal and three assists, while Flanders scored two goals and two assists leaving Golant with two goals and three assists. The three took claim to the Three Stars of the Night. 

In the last matchup with the two teams, UNLV outshot Arizona State 106-75 in total for the weekend. 

With high expectations for this series, the Rebels will be entering off a split series with Liberty, losing the first game with a comeback victory the following night. 

“This series is gonna be big,” Boutoussov said. “Every game is a new game though, so can’t be too high. But again, we had great success against them, so hopefully we carry a little more confidence, a little more swagger into that game and hopefully continuously.”

The Sun Devils will be entering off a two-game winning streak after sweeping the University of Oklahoma along with a new coaching staff compared to the last time these two teams faced off. Jarred Smith will be entering the series as the new head coach for Arizona State. 

“I don’t want anybody to let their foot off the gas,” Greener said. “That’s my main focus right now. We can’t be too comfortable. Obviously we’re playing a team out of the top twenty so you know you can’t have a loss at this late into the year to a team like that.”

The Rebels continue to have a strong offense during their games with 101 total goals made this season, averaging 4 goals per game.  

The Sun Devils averaged 3.3 goals per game out of its 23 for the year with 76 total goals.

So far for the season, the Rebels’ defense has allowed 62 goals for an average of 2.48 goals per game, compared to the Sun Devils’ allowed 99 goals with an average of 4.3 goals per game. 

“I’ve been pretty happy with my defensive play,” David Lenzin said. “I would like a bit more offensive production. I know we already have guys on our team that are taking care of the offensive department but it would be nice to get on the score sheet a little bit.”

Max Johnson remains the top scorer for the Rebels, leading the team with 18 goals and 12 assists for a total of 30 points. Following close behind, Alec Johnson earned 26 points for the team with nine goals and 17 assists. 

Sun Devil forward Brendan Studioso enters the series as Arizona State’s top scorer with seven goals and 15 assists under his belt for a total of 22 points. Damon Porter follows close behind Studioso with seven goals and 12 assists. 

The puck drop is scheduled for 8 p.m. MST / 7 p.m. PST on Feb. 11 and 7 p.m. MST / 6 p.m. PST on Feb. 12. Follow the team on Twitter (@UNLVRebelHockey) for live updates along with a link to the stream. For Vegas fans tuning into the game, the puck drop will be at 6 p.m. PST. 

“We’re looking forward to two big wins,” Boutoussov said. “We can get a three game win streak going. Obviously we want to win all of our games and get to nationals. We got ASU, Grand Canyon, and Oregon left. We think we can beat all those teams if we play our game so I look forward to doing so.”

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