The Skatin’ Rebels advanced to the final four in the ACHA Nationals Tournament for the first time, defeating Liberty 4-2 in their second game.
UNLV came out with a strong offensive start, something the team hasn’t seen in a while after the loss of their 16-game win streak back in January handed to them from Liberty.
Nick Flanders put the Flames on an early power-play six seconds into the game for unsportsmanlike conduct. Despite being short-handed, the Rebels dominated the puck and managed to keep control of the game.
Jayson Dimizio put the scarlet and gray on the scoreboard first, two minutes into the game with assists from Luke Burke and Alec Johnson.
A few minutes after the goal, Matthew Bartel put the Rebels on a power-play of their own, after being sent to the penalty box with two minutes for roughing.
UNLV took advantage of the extra man on the ice with Paxton Malone shooting the puck past Liberty goaltender Hunter Virostek. Jake Berry and Brendan Manning assisted with the goal to put the Rebels up 2-0.
Michael Boutoussov scored himself an unassisted goal with 3:31 left in the period to extend the Rebels lead to 3-0.
UNLV held on to the strong offensive play for the remainder of the period having a total of 14 shots on goal, along with a dominant defensive side with goaltender Zach Wickson making 6-of-6 saves.
The second period saw two penalties from the Rebels, accompanying a goal for the Flames.
Liberty’s Josh Fricks scored a goal at 8:07 for the Flames, assisted by Matthew Berezowski and Jacob Kalandyk for a new score of 3-1 in favor of UNLV.
Alec Johnson saw the penalty box first, with two minutes for slashing at 13:52 in the period. Jared Erickson followed close behind, entering over a minute later with his own two minutes for boarding.
The Rebels continued to dominate, even while short-handed for two amazing penalty kills to keep the Flames off the scoreboard for the final minutes of the period.
Entering the third period, Liberty began to pick up its momentum and started playing with a stronger offense to take more possession of the puck.
Neither side saw any scoring until 16:44 when Chaydan Lauber slipped the puck past Wickson, assisted by Kam Ottenbreit to bring the score within one at 3-2.
Less than two minutes later, Flanders scored an insurance goal for the Rebels with assists coming from Bradley Golant and Ezekiel Estrada to put UNLV up 4-2.
Despite a hard fought effort from the Flames for the final two minutes, no goals were able to come out of it leaving the Rebels with a 4-2 victory and advancement while Liberty was sent home from the elimination.
Overall, UNLV outshot Liberty 30-29, with Flame Virostek making 26-of-30 saves.
Flanders earned the first star, with his insurance goal for the scarlet and gray.
Wickson was named second star for the second straight game of the tournament. He made 27 saves for a 93 save percentage.
Dimizio continued his National stardom, earning third star of the night with his early goal. The goal was his fourth point of the tournament.
UNLV Hockey will return to the ice on March 14 to take on the Central Oklahoma Bronchos with a 4:45 p.m. CST puck drop.