UNLV Rebel Hockey’s team captain, Jared Erickson, looks forward to one final run at Nationals as his time in the scarlet and gray comes to an end.
Born in Waupaca, WI, Erickson was only six years old when he picked up a hockey stick and threw on the gear, jumping onto the ice to play. He concludes his final season with the team with a total of 20 years of playing experience.
Throughout his years of playing, Erickson lives by the coaching advice of putting the team first and yourself second.
“All I wanna do is win so putting that forward as a player,” Erickson said. “I think that is really important for the program… You kind of just choose where your heart is at and where your mind is at. I think a lot of guys will buy into that type of advice from a coach.”
Before coming to UNLV, Erickson played two years at Iowa State. While there, he tallied nine goals and nine assists for a total of 18 points over the course of 68 games played.
“We recruited him before he went to Iowa State. Unfortunately, he chose them over us, but we would’ve loved to have him for two more years,” Rebel assistant coach Nick Robone said. “When he reached back out and said he wanted to come here, it was a no-brainer to get him here as soon as possible. He’s been a god-sent ever since.”
Erickson played the 2019-2020 season with the Skatin’ Rebels, where he racked up seven goals and 12 assists throughout the 34 games.
“The first time I wore a Rebel jersey was our Scarlet and Gray [team scrimmage] game in 2019, and there was a solid turn out for the fans,” Erickson said. “That definitely made me excited for what the fans were going to bring for the rest of the season.”
When he joined the team, his former junior league teammate Tristan Mayer took him under his wing and helped make the transition a lot smoother and easier.
It was Mayer’s final season with the team, but he helped set Erickson up for the next two seasons with the Rebels.
The Skatin’ Rebels took the 12th seed as they prepared to head to Nationals for the season, but right before they were about to leave, the season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The following season would continue to get pushed back as the team was told they wouldn’t get to play until January of 2021. Once the spring semester rolled around, it was announced that their season was canceled.
“It’s been kind of crazy, that’s why I think our standards and expectations as a program over the years have changed drastically compared to pre-pandemic,” Erickson said. “I definitely set our sights pretty high and the coaches knew that as well.”
“They saw that and we were right on the same page about wanting to be a top four seed for Nationals. Definitely, our standards and expectations have changed over the pandemic.”
Heading into this season, Erickson was voted as team captain for the Rebels and with the leadership role he’s only continued to grow on and off the ice by leading by example.
“He’s been incredible,” Robone said. “He’s been a first class student-athlete for our program on and off the ice. He’s a model for every player that comes through this program. It’s been amazing to watch him grow throughout these past three years.”
As team captain, one thing he has preached the entire season, along with the coaches, is for the Rebels to worry about themselves. Erickson doesn’t want the team to get wrapped up with what other teams are doing or what calls the refs are going to make.
At the end of the day, all of the focus is on the Rebels and how they can improve themselves heading into the next game.
Erickson’s favorite part of being team captain is being the voice that the younger guys on the team rely on. He loves being able to help the younger players make the transition through their career.
So far this season, Erickson has made an appearance in every game with seven goals and four assists for 11 total points for the season.
During his time as a Rebel, Erickson has become more consistent in his performance.
“He’s really a guy that always does the little things right, but really, this year, I’ve just noticed that his entire game has come more well rounded, and he’s grown into the leadership role and become more vocal,” Robone said.
Throughout the three years of playing in Las Vegas, Erickson has had the privilege of watching the hockey community grow in the valley.
The youth programs in Vegas are expanding, along with the acknowledgment that Rebel Hockey on campus has improved throughout the years with more students in attendance every year.
With the growing hockey community, Erickson has been able to sign a couple of autographs during his time in the scarlet and gray.
“I’ve signed a couple autographs. I’ve worked on my signature a little bit but it’s been a lot of fun meeting and greeting with all the fans.”
During his final season with the Rebels, they’ve managed to make it a successful one with a 16-game winning streak, claiming the Chicago Classic trophy, and entering Nationals as the 4th seed.
“Sweep after sweep, weekend after weekend we kind of just kept the ball rolling and even though Thanksgiving and Christmas break we kind of kept that going,” Erickson said. “That can be really tough coming back after a break and having a fresh start you really don’t know what’s going to happen with the team. That was definitely my favorite moment just having a two or three month stretch where we didn’t lose a game.”
With Nationals right around the corner, Erickson’s last home games for the scarlet and gray are on March 4 and 5, with a 7:30 p.m. puck drop for both games at City National Arena with senior night falling on Saturday.