Rebel Hockey returns home to face off against Grand Canyon

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Rebel defenseman Alec Johnson looks for the puck during a drill at practice on Feb. 16, 2022. Johnson was one of the top defensive players in the previous series against Grand Canyon as UNLV prepares to face them again this weekend. Photo by Kayla Faasse

The Skatin’ Rebels (22-5) return to City National Arena after playing on the road for a month, taking on Grand Canyon (10-18).

“It’s always tough to go on the road especially for an extended period of time,” assistant captain Hunter Muzzillo said. “We’ve done it a few times but it’s still fun to play at City National. We have the best fanbase in the entire country we feel like and we’re excited to get out there and hopefully put together a better weekend than last weekend.”

After losing in a shootout 4-3 the Skatnin’ Rebels responded with a 4-3 win of their own to split a two game series with Arizona State.

GCU enters off a huge sweep of Northern Arizona, winning the first game 9-1 and taking the second night with a 8-4 victory. 

The two teams previously faced off on Dec. 3 and 4, with the Rebels sweeping the Antelopes. 

GCU managed to keep pace with UNLV falling short the first night 3-2, compared to the second night where the Rebels managed to keep better control of the puck for a 5-2 victory. 

“I think that [GCU] is going to have a little bit more confidence against us,” assistant coach Nick Robone said. “You know they played us pretty tight when we were down in Phoenix…they are going to be coming here expecting to come out here with four points and it’s our job to make sure that they don’t.”

Antelope goaltender Scott Kasaboski remained in the net for both games, totalling 71 saves out of 79 shots against for a save percentage of 89.9% over the weekend.

For the first meeting, UNLV had Zach Wickson in the net totalling 26 saves out of 28 shots against for a save percentage of 92.85% for the night. 

The following games, Vince Bendetto took over in the net with a save percentage of 92.85%, as Benedetto made the same amount of saves (26/28) as Wickson from the night prior.

The Rebels are looking at starting Wickson in the net once again for the upcoming game this Friday. 

Returning to the ice, the Rebels’ offense has improved to an average of 4 goals per game with a total of 108 goals made this season. 

The Antelopes continue to average 4 goals per game out of its 28 played games with 116 total goals. 

Defensively, the Rebels have stayed consistent, allowing a total of 69 goals for an average of 2.5 per game. 

Compared to the Antelopes allowing 133 goals with an average of 4.75 per game. 

Forward Max Johnson holds on to his throne as the top scorer for UNLV, leading the team with 18 goals, 12 assists and 30 points. 

Following close behind, both Alec Johnson and Cole Wyatt are tied for second on the leaderboard, both contributing 27 points- mainly in assists. 

Antelope forward Jacob Cummings remains the leading scorer for GCU with 17 goals, 21 assists and 38 points. In second on the leaderboard, Cameron Neaylon has 15 goals and 10 assists for a total of 25 points. 

The puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. PST on Feb. 18 and 19, with Friday’s game being the third and final Greek Life night of the season. 

“With Friday night being Greek night it’s going to be loud, it’s going to be rowdy, it’s going to be a lot of fun for our guys,” Robone said. “It’ll be a great change of pace for our guys. We’re really anticipating a strong start in both games and feeding off the crowd will be a big priority of ours so getting them involved early, getting on the scoreboard early, and making some big plays will be something we stress big time.”

The game will include a free tailgate for students with a contest for UNLV’s Greek community to take part in. The Greek Life organization with the most 50/50 raffle ticket purchases will win a free VIP booth with food and drinks to a future UNLV Hockey game. 

Students get free admission to all of the games and other tickets can be purchased at the door or at rebelhockey.com/tix

Follow the team on Twitter (@UNLVRebelHockey) for live updates along with a link to the Youtube stream for those who are unable to attend in-person. 

“It’s like a mix between excited and sad,” forward Jayson Dimizio said. “You know I love playing hockey and I’m a senior so I’m sad that the season is close to ending but I’m excited to go to St. Louis for Nationals.”

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