The Skatin’ Rebels hit the road for the first time in 2022 to take on the University of Arizona for the second series of the year.
UNLV is currently on a 14-game winning streak, but Arizona was the last team to hand them a loss back in October. During the two game series at City National Arena, the Rebels lost 4-3 in the first matchup for their third loss of the season.
“Obviously that was a long time ago, we had just got back from a rough road trip and they gave us a game,” head coach Anthony Vignieri-Greener said. “We were just settling in, but I’m not too worried about them. We went over all their systems this week but the main message is we’re just worrying about us and good things will happen.”
The Rebels managed a comeback, winning the second game 3-2, but it was a tough defensive battle on both sides.
The Wildcats will be entering the weekend with a 3-2 win against Grand Canyon following a sweep by Minot State the first week of January.
UNLV continues to have a consistent offense with 85 total goals made this season, averaging four goals per game.
Arizona averaged 3.1 goals per game out of its 21 games for the season with 67 total goals.
“We for sure are not going to take them lightly,” forward Cole Wyatt said. “We’ve been working hard in practice the last couple of weeks. We’re gonna go in there and do all the little things right and hopefully come out with four points.”
The Rebels demonstrate their powerful offense with 748 total shots on goal from the season, averaging about 35.2 shots per game while outshooting their opponents 66.7% of the time.
The Wildcat’s offense averages 34.3 shots per game for 721 total shots on goal from the season. They only manage to outshoot their opponents 71.43% of the time.
In the last matchup with the two teams, UNLV outshot Arizona 68-52 in total for the weekend. Even with the loss, the Rebels outshot the Wildcats 33-24 in game one and 35-28 in the second game for a 3-2 win.
“That was one thing we did talk about is we ran into a hot goalie,” Vignieri-Greener said. “We had almost 70 shots in two nights and only had 7 goals total so keep shooting the puck as you can see we’re scoring more goals so the goals are gonna come we just gotta keep shooting the puck.”
Max Johnson remains the top scorer for the Rebels, leading the team with 16 goals and 10 assists for a total of 26 points. Following close behind, Wyatt earned 22 points for the team with five goals and 17 assists.
Forward Brody Selman enters the series as Arizona’s top scorer with 11 goals and eight assists under his belt for a total of 19 points for the team. Wildcat Anthony Cusanelli trailing behind with six goals and 12 assists for 18 team points.
So far this season, both the Rebel’s defense and Wildcat’s defense have totaled 48 allowed goals with an average of 2.2 goals per game.
“I know coming off the break we really wanted to focus on being strong in our D-zone,” defenseman Sean Plonski said. “We’ve been working on D-zone faceoff plays, giving us more options to get out of the zone. I think if we bring those into the games this weekend it will give us a lot more opportunities to open up a scoring gap.”
Rebel goaltender Vince Benedetto has 180 total saves for UNLV, starting in six games for the team for a 91.4% save average. Benedetto will start in net for the Skatin’ Rebels this Friday night to kick off the weekend.
Wildcat goaltender Anthony Ciurro has started in 14 games for Arizona, with a 92.63% save average and with 415 total saves.
The puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. MT on Jan. 21-22. 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.
“Just having a good start for the boys. You know that first season,” Max Johnson said, “the first half is behind us now, we just gotta keep going with the momentum we have into the second season.”