The Skatin’ Rebels took on the Arizona Wildcats for the second time this season, sweeping them over the weekend to improve their winning streak to 16 games.
“I think it was a big confidence builder for us to go in there and beat the team that’s beaten us before,” assistant coach Nick Robone said. “It felt like a little bit of revenge. Especially beating them on their home ice twice in a row.”
This marked the first series Rebel goaltender Vince Benedetto started in both games. He ended the weekend with 44 total saves.
Game One, Jan. 21
UNLV hit the ice Friday night fast-paced and ready to go, keeping high momentum throughout the game to win 4-3 in overtime.
Jaedin Ness played his second game as a Rebel after joining the team halfway through last semester. He scored his first goal early in the night, assisted by Jayson Dimizio to put UNLV on the board at 2:40.
Shortly after the goal, Arizona tied it up with Ben Jones scoring, assisted by Aidan Cifrino.
The on-ice tension grew late in the period, as both teams started to get called for penalties. Brenden Fehlig was first in the box for tripping.
Five minutes later, Dimizio was ejected from the game for major-boarding with a game misconduct after hitting Wildcat Christopher Fritz.
Wildcat Matthew Marquis earned himself two penalties for roughing.
With one second remaining in the period, team captain Jared Erickson gave the Rebels a 2-1 lead, assisted by Hunter Muzzillo and Alec Johnosn.
Despite leading on the scoreboard, UNLV ended the period being outshot by Arizona 7-6.
In the second period, Brendan Manning was the only player able to score a goal, assisted by Paxton Malone and Muzzillo for a 3-1 lead.
Both teams picked up the pace in the second period, with UNLV gaining more control of the puck. Despite only scoring one goal, the Rebels held possession of the puck for more time than the Wildcats managed to have.
Entering the third period, the physicality on both sides started to increase with 16 total penalties called throughout the period.
At 9:34 in the period, Michael Boutoussov was sent to the penalty box for tripping and unsportsmanlike conduct, giving Arizona a much needed power-play.
With only 30 seconds remaining on the power-play, Matthew Hohl snuck the puck past Benedetto for a goal, assisted by Alex Johanson for a new score of 3-2.
Arizona’s Cameron Teamor enters the penalty box at 17:22 of the period for slashing, putting the Rebels on a power-play of their own.
Despite a UNLV power-play, Arizona’s Brody Selman managed to score an unassisted goal to tie the game at 3.
The Rebels fought hard to break the tie in the last minute and a half of the game, but were unsuccessful as both teams headed into overtime.
Not long into the overtime, Max Johnson had a clean shot against Arizona goaltender Anthony Ciurro, scoring the winning shot with assists coming from Bradley Golant and Alec Johnson for a final score of 4-3.
UNLV outshot Arizona 34-27 throughout the night.
The Rebels ended the night with 12 total penalties compared to Arizona’s 11 penalties.
“The staff, coach Greener and I were pretty upset with the boys after the first night’s disciplinary response to some adversity,” Robone said. “I think it was important for us to get back to what we do best and the number one thing being staying out of the penalty box to play 5-on-5 hockey.”
Three Stars of the Night
Max Johnson claimed the first star of the night with his overtime goal to secure the Rebel victory.
Benedetto earned second star with his 24 saves.
The third star was given to Ness for scoring his first goal as a Rebel.
Game Two, Jan. 22
The Skatin’ Rebels returned to Tucson Convention Center to take on the Wildcats for the second night in a row, defeating them 5-3.
This time around, the Rebels played more disciplined compared to the night prior, with only five total penalties throughout the game.
Arizona kicked off the scoring with George Orfanos sneaking the puck past Benedetto with an assist from Selman.
The Rebels were unable to tie the game until the end of the period with Muzzillo knocking in a goal of his own with assists coming from Cole Wyatt and Golant for 1-1.
Orfanos kept the momentum going starting off the second period just like he did the first, scoring in the first two minutes, this time assisted by Dawson Marshall for a 2-1 lead.
It didn’t take long for UNLV to pick up the pace with Ezekiel Estrada scoring, assisted by Dimizio who was able to return to the ice tonight, tying the score once again.
In the last 30 seconds of the period, Dimizio shot the puck past Arizona goaltender Nolan Bivolcic for a goal of his own, assisted by Estrada and Manning to steal the lead 3-2.
Entering the third period, it only took Johanson 19 seconds to get called for checking from behind, sending himself to the penalty box and putting the Rebels on a power-play.
Golant took advantage of the opportunity and scored a goal seconds later, assisted by Max Johnson and Wyatt for a 4-2 lead.
It didn’t take long for Arizona to answer back with a goal of their own, scored by Connor Ziegler and assisted by Ryan Fischer.
Wildcat Marshall was then called on a penalty for tripping, giving the Rebels their last power-play of the night.
This time, Max Johnson sent the puck into the net for a second power play goal in a row for the Rebels. The shot was assisted by Golant and Alec Johnson for a 5-3 victory.
For the remainder of the night, UNLV managed to hold Airzona back, outshooting them 34-23 to earn the second win of the weekend.
Three Stars of the Night
The first star of the night was awarded to Golant with his one goal and two assists of the night.
Estrada claimed second star of the night with his one goal and one assist.
Dimizio earned the third star of the night with one goal and one assist from the game.
UNLV Skatin’ Rebels prepare to hit the road once again as they take on Liberty next weekend, Jan. 28-29. Puck drop for the first game will be at 7 p.m. EST while the second game will have an 11:59 p.m. EST puck drop.
“After winning 16 in a row, we know we have a confident team that can compete with anyone in any barn or any away arena,” Robone said. “I think going into Liberty our confidence is high but at the same time there’s a lot of urgency out there knowing these are important games for us to remain where we are and to climb in the rankings.”
Follow Rebel hockey on twitter (@UNLVRebelHockey) for live updates during the series.