UNLV hockey resumed its season after a month-long break from competition, sweeping the Jamestown Jimmies in a close series for its 14 straight win.
“We loved the effort,” assistant coach Nick Robone said. “I think the execution could be better in some areas but for having a month off you know everyone came here ready to work for two weeks and I think that having that extra week of practice really helped us out this weekend.”
Game One, Jan. 14
The Skatin’ Rebels hit the ice Friday night with an arena filled with fans, earning an overtime victory 4-3 against Jamestown.
The Rebel defense put up a strong fight in the first period, preventing any shots from going into the net behind goaltender Zach Wickson.
Despite a strong fight, Jamestown was first up on the scoreboard with Reid Wilson scoring with five minutes to go in the period. Gregory Susinski and Austin Kromm earned an assist on the goal, as Wilson tucked the puck into the net.
Susinski scored the next goal for the Jimmies 11:19 into the second period, with an assist coming from Aidan Potas putting Jamestown up 2-0.
The Rebels started to pick up the pace more as the period continued, getting more aggressive on the ice and blocking the Jamestown offense from scoring.
Brendan Manning put UNLV on the scoreboard with three minutes remaining in the period, with assists coming from Ezekiel Estrada and Jack Kennedy.
Immediately after the goal, Morgan Venne was sent to the penalty box for unsportsmanlike conduct, giving the Rebels a power-play advantage.
Thirty seconds later, Max Johnson slid the puck behind Jamestown goaltender Tyson Brouwer to tie the score at 2-2. The goal was assisted by Cole Wyatt and Hunter Muzzillo.
Entering the third period, the crowd started to get louder as the intensity on the ice grew with only 20 minutes to break the current tie.
It took two minutes for Mario Decapite to score for the Jimmies, assisted by Gage Thompson and Susinski to give them the lead 3-2.
With seven minutes remaining in regulation time, Bradley Golant scored an unassisted goal against Brouwer, giving the Rebels the chance for victory.
“Yeah that whole entire [fourth] line, they are the energy line,” head coach Anthony Vignieri-Greener said, “and just right before that goal I said ‘hey boys settle in it’s coming’ and then [Golant] just popped with what we needed. His work ethic and grittiness you know he earns those goals. Those are hard goals to come by and he earns them.”
For the remaining time, both teams fought hard to break the tie, but were unsuccessful with doing so, sending them into overtime.
The Rebels ended the game regulation outshooting the Jimmies 42-36.
In overtime, the Jimmies were allowed zero scoring opportunities, with the Rebel offense keeping the puck in their zone.
The Rebels only needed a minute of overtime for Paxton Malone to score the winning goal, assisted by Alec Johnson for a final score of 4-3.
“I think [Jamestown] brought the game pace with them from their experience,” Malone said. “Obviously we don’t have much coming from the break. This is our first game. Once we felt that first period I think we just kind of felt the game pace again and got after it.”
Three Stars of the Night
Malone earned himself the first star of the night with his game-winning goal in overtime.
Golant was named second star of the night with his unassisted goal.
Manning earned third star of the night with his goal in the second period.
Game Two, Jan. 15
Rebel hockey faced the Jamestown Jimmies for the second night in a row, this time with more energy to defeat the Jimmies 5-3.
“[Jamestown] always plays well,” Manning said. “I’m sure you’ve heard from our staff. They always give us one hell of a game. This weekend they did.”
Heading into this game, the Rebels started with Vince Benedetto in the net instead of Wickson, to give both goalies a starting opportunity for the weekend.
Nick Flanders opened up the scoring early on in the game, scoring 1:10 into the first period, assisted by Muzzillo.
The lead didn’t last long when Thompson immediately responded back with a goal of his own assisted by Decapite, tying the score 1-1.
The intensity of the game increased with the tied score, with both teams taking hard hits.
Max Johnson gave the Rebels the lead with a goal assisted by Wyatt towards the end of the period, 2-1.
Three minutes into the second period, Alexander Church served a penalty for Jamestown with too many men on the ice, putting the Rebels on a power-play.
Max Johnson opened up the scoring in the period, with his second power-play goal of the series, this time assisted by Alec Johnson and Muzzillo.
Manning scored his first goal of the game, assisted by Brenden Fehlig, lengthening the Rebel lead even more to 4-1.
Shortly after, Cole Haukaas scored a goal for the Jimmies, cutting the lead in half 4-2. His goal was assisted by Logan Berggren.
The teams grew more aggressive as they entered the third period of the night.
With 6:06 remaining in the game, multiple fights broke out on the ice resulting in Alec Johnson and Luke Burke getting ejected from the game with 10 minute game misconducts.
Along with the game misconduct, Alec Johnson earned himself a penalty of two minutes for cross checking, served by Estrada.
Shortly after, Jamestwon was given a 5-on-3 advantage on the ice as Michael Boutoussov was sent to the penalty box with two minutes for roughing.
With the man-power advantage, Wilson scored for Jamestown, assisted by Marquez Ginger and Susinski to bring the score to 4-3.
Jamestown pulled Brouwer out of the net for the remainder of the game for an extra man advantage in hopes of tying the game for another night of overtime.
Its hopes were not met with Jayson Dimizio sending a pass to Manning, who then slid the puck into the empty net for the final goal of the night with eight seconds remaining for a 5-3 win.
Once again, the Rebels ended the night outshooting the Jimmies 43-32.
Three Stars of the Night
Manning earned himself the first star of the night with his two goals.
Flanders was named second star with his singular goal to kick off the night.
Benedetto claimed the third star with his 29 saves.
The Skatin’ Rebels hit the road to take on Arizona next weekend on Jan. 21-22 for the second time this season. Arizona was the last team to hand UNLV a loss, losing 4-3 back in October.
“I think it’s a great test for us,” Robone said. “We’re never going to win a championship here at City National Area so we have to learn to compete and win games in Arizona and Liberty in tough environments, things like that. It’s only going to set us up for a nice run at nationals.”
Puck drops for both games are set for 7 p.m. and Vegas fans will be able to watch through a live-stream provided by the team. Follow Rebel hockey on twitter (@UNLVRebelHockey) for live updates during the series.