UNLV earns tough victory against Arizona State, splitting the series

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Graphic by Madison Faries.

The Skatin’ Rebels split their weekend road series 1-1 against the Arizona State Sun Devils in the team’s second series of the season. 

UNLV came back to win on Feb. 12 after falling the night prior in what was its last road trip of the regular season.  

Game One, Feb. 11

Rebel Hockey entered the Oceanside Ice Arena with the hopes of winning their third straight game against the Sun Devils, but their dreams were shattered by Arizona State stealing a shootout victory 4-3. 

The game started with minimum energy from both teams, but UNLV managed to hold possession of the puck for the majority of the first period, outshooting ASU 14-5. 

Ezekiel Estrada was first up on the scoreboard 15:26 into the first period, with assists coming from Jack Kennedy and Jayson Dimizio for a 1-0 lead. 

Two minutes later, Angelos Tsalafos knocked the puck behind Sun Devil goaltender Dawson Rodin to extend the lead 2-0. Sean Plonski and Brenden Fehlig assisted Tsalafos in the goal as the team entered the first intermission. 

It didn’t take much for ASU to come out with more power compared to the first 20 minutes, scoring fairly early at the 6:22 mark to break the Rebel lead in half, 2-1 to start the second period.

The Sun Devil’s second lead scorer, Damon Porter managed to sneak the puck past goaltender Zach Wickson with assists coming from Connor Tilmon and Ryan Edgar. 

The Sun Devils kept up the momentum, forcing the Rebels to chase after the puck and search for opportunities. 

With six minutes left in the period, a delay of game was called against Wickson after he covered the puck with his glove behind the net while it was not on the crease line. Estrada served the two minute penalty, giving ASU the power-play it needed. 

The Sun Devils took advantage of the extra man on ice, scoring a minute into the power-play. Connor Kruk knocked the puck into the net, assisted by Brendan Studioso and Clayton Lackey for a tied game of 2-2. 

With a final push for more momentum for the Rebels, team captain Jared Erickson scored a goal of his own to give UNLV the lead once again, with assists coming from Brendan Manning and Jake Berry. 

UNLV continued to outshoot ASU 12-11 in the second period, entering the third with a 3-2 lead. 

Despite a hard fought battle, Sun Devil Elliot Plourde managed to shoot the puck into the back of the net, assisted by Studioso and Lackey to tie the game once again, 3-3. 

The two teams entered overtime for the first time during their matchups this year. 

During the 3-on-3 overtime, neither team was able to send the puck into the net after the five minutes ended sending the team into a shootout. This would be UNLV’s first shootout of the season.

The Rebels went 0-5 for their shootout lineup, while the Sun Devils went 1-4. 

Ryan Edgar took the victory against UNLV in round five of the shootout to give ASU a 4-3 upset win. 

Overall, Wickson made 36 saves out of 40 shots against. Rodin made 45 total saves out of 42 shots against. 

Game Two, Feb. 12

The Skatin’ Rebels returned to the ice with more energy to split the series with a 4-3 victory against the Sun Devils. 

Arizona State was quick to jump on the scoreboard, scoring less than two minutes into the start of the game. Lackey sent the puck behind Wickson with assists by Jaren Debolt and Studioso. 

It took some time for the Rebels to get their footing as they started putting the pressure on the Sun Devils. 

Paxton Malone managed to score at 13:11, assisted by Manning and Erickson to tie the game at 1-1. 

A minute later, Porter was sent to the penalty box for two minutes for cross-checking and unsportsmanlike conduct, putting the Rebels on a power-play. 

Muzzillo scored his fourth power-play goal of the year to put UNLV in the lead. The goal was assisted by Malone and Nick Flanders. 

The period ended with Porter scoring to tie the game once again for a 2-2 score as they entered intermission. 

The second period proved to be uneventful with neither goalie allowing any goals. UNLV continued to outshoot ASU 12-7 during the period. 

The intensity grew on the ice as both teams struggled to break the tie.

Lackey was sent to the penalty box less than a minute into the third period with two minutes for holding, putting the Rebels on another power-play. 

With the extra man advantage, Bradley Golant scored to give the Rebels the lead assisted by Alec Johnson and Muzzillo. 

About a minute later, Estrada secured UNLV’s victory with a goal of his own. This time assisted by Dimizio and Wyatt for an updated score of 4-2. 

ASU was quick to return the favor and score the final goal of the night. Zachary Kowalchuk knocked the puck behind Wickson, assisted by Conor Dineen and Wyatt Palmer for the final score of 4-3 in the Rebels favor. 

Despite a hard fought battle for the rest of the game, the Sun Devils were unable to tie, losing on their home ice to the Skatin’ Rebels. 

Overall, UNLV outshot ASU 41-30 throughout the game.

This was the second series in a row that the Rebels fell short during the first game to split the series. 

Three Stars of the Night

Golant was awarded the first star of the night for scoring the tie-breaking goal. 

Plonski took the second star for his outstanding defensive performance. 

Malone was given the third star of the night with his one goal and one assist of the night. 

Up Next

After a month of traveling on the road, the Skatin’ Rebels finally return to City National Arena to play in front of their home crowd next weekend. UNLV will take on Grand Canyon on Feb. 18 and 19 with a 7:30 p.m. puck drop for both games. 

Friday’s game will be another Greek Life night with a free tailgate and a contest for a free VIP booth with food and drinks to a future UNLV Hockey game for the Greek organization with the most 50/50 raffle ticket purchases. 

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