Skatin’ Rebels ACHA national championship recap

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UNLV Hockey goaltender Vinny Benedetto at the ACHA national championship against Adrian College. (Photo courtesy of Joe Leazier/CMU)

Quarterfinal

The No. 5 Skatin’ Rebels eliminated the No. 20 University of Pittsburgh Panthers on March 11. The Rebels dominated the Panthers in a 5-1 win, sending UNLV to the final four. Nick Flanders earned the first star of the night with two goals. Luke Burke earned the second star with a goal, and Vinny Benedetto earned the third star with 19 saves on 20 shots faced.

Jayson DiMizio took the first penalty of the game for roughing 4:13 in, giving Pitt the first man advantage of the game. Ian Keller capitalized on the power just 25 seconds later, with assistance from Colby Bilski and Josh Hrip.

DiMizio bounced back with a goal at 6:58, assisted by Jaxsen Wyatt and Max Johnson.

Jack Kisela took the last penalty of the period at 17:36, sending the Rebels on their first power play.

The Rebels outshot the Panthers 13-9 in the first.

Flanders opened the second period with his first goal of the game just 56 seconds in, with assistance from Michael Boutoussov and Benedetto.

At 10:21, Mason Kelly sent the Panthers on the power play for slashing.

That didn’t stop the Rebels, as Burke extended the 2-1 lead with a short-handed goal at 12:05, assisted by Jake Berry and DiMizio.

Dan Larkin sent the Rebels on the power play 38 seconds later for boarding.

Under a minute later, Keller was sent to the box for boarding, putting the Rebels on a five-on-three. 

Alec Johnson capitalized on the power play with a goal at 15:01, assisted by Rob McCollum and Cole Wyatt.

The Rebels continued to outshoot the Panthers 16-3 in the second.

The third period saw Flanders add to his scoring record with a goal at 2:02, assisted by Mattias Dal Monte and McCollum.

UNLV defeated the Pitt Panthers 5-1, and in total, the Skatin’ Rebels outshot the Panthers 42-20, sending them to the semifinal round.

Semifinals

The Skatin’ Rebels made history, clinching a spot in the ACHA national championship on March 11 with its 6-4 win against the University of Central Oklahoma.

Justin Stathopolous earned the first star of the night with two goals. Tristan Rand earned the second star of the night with a goal, and McCollum earned the third star with the insurance goal.

After nine minutes of back-and-forth action, Bradley Golant kicked off the scoring with a goal at 9:09, assisted by Jaxsen Wyatt. 

Cooper Krauss was sent to the box for cross-checking at 14:25, giving the Rebels their first power play of the game. Max Johnson took advantage and scored at 16:01, with assists from Golant and Caleb Strong.

David Burton put the Bronchos on the board with 33 seconds left in the period, with help from Vitalii Mikhailov and Kameron Williams.

The Rebels dominated the Bronchos in shots 13-5 at the end of the first period.

Stathopoulos scored his first goal of the game at 7:12 in the second period, assisted by Heath Mensch and Nick Doyle.

At 9:55, Rand extended the lead with a goal, assisted by Kelly. 

At 10:15, Carter Eha served a 10-minute misconduct, and Frank Mondi served his elbowing penalty, giving the Rebels the man advantage. 

Mikhailov cut the Bronchos deficit to two goals, scoring in the backend of the second period with assistance from Zach Guerra and Sam Sykes.

With the 4-2 lead, the Rebels continued to outshoot the Bronchos 13-9.

Sykes kicked off the third period with a goal at 1:42, assisted by JC Dubecky and Jack Taylor.

Stathopoulos extended the Rebels lead with his second goal of the game assisted by Kelly and Mensch in the middle of the third period.

DiMizio sent the Bronchos on the power play at 16:00, giving them the man advantage. The Bronchos also pulled its goalie, making it a six-on-four. 

With assistance from Dubecky and Sykes, Cullen Hogan found the back of the net to make the score 5-4 with less than three minutes remaining in regulation.

Eight seconds after the goal, goaltender Doug Wakelyn was pulled again. McCollum took advantage of the empty net at 18:43 with a goal, securing UNLV’s spot in the national championship.

Championship 

The Skatin’ Rebels fell short in its first appearance in the championship game in program history on March 12, losing 3-0 to Adrian College. 

The Rebels started its top goal scorers, including Golant, DiMizio, Max Johnson, Alec Johnson, and Doyle. The team started Benedetto in net.

Despite a physical first period, there was only one penalty called. Blake Wideman was sent to the box at 18:51 for boarding, giving the Rebels the man advantage at the end of the first.

The first period ended scoreless, with the Rebels outshooting the Bulldogs 16-8. 

Things heated up in the second period as the physicality increased. Rand had the first penalty for the Rebels for interference at 4:12. 

Wideman got the Bulldogs on the board with a goal at 17:22, with assistance from Brodie Thornton and Ethan McLaughlin.

Cameron Armstrong took the last penalty of the period for cross-checking at 18:16.

The Rebels continued to outshoot the Bulldogs 16-11 at the end of the second. 

Alec Johnson took the first penalty of the third period for boarding at 4:02. Matteo DiGiulio took advantage of the power play with a goal a minute later, assisted by Dylan Gajewski.

Benedetto was pulled at 16:45, giving the Rebels the extra man advantage. However, DiGiulio extended the Bulldogs’ lead with an empty net goal, assisted by Gajewski and Sebastian Smith at 19:48.

The Bulldogs took the ACHA DI championship with a 3-0 victory, souring the historic run for UNLV.

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