UNLV falls to Central Oklahoma for first loss of the season

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The Rebel defensemen Hunter Muzzillo (26) and Jake Berry (14) help goaltender Zach Wickson (31) defend the net during the game against Central Oklahoma. Photo by Bella Vegh from UNLV Hockey.

The Skatin’ Rebels traveled for the first time this year to take on theCentral Oklahoma Bronchos, where UNLV was handed its first double loss of the season, going 0-2 in the series. 

The Rebels entered Friday night’s game ready for a challenge and put up a good fight on both sides of the ice for a close 2-1 game with the Bronchos coming out on time. 

Saturday night reigned a different story for the Scarlet and Gray with Central Oklahoma’s offense dominating the ice for a 6-2 victory. 

Game One, Oct. 15

The night started off with a back-and-forth game between the Rebels and Bronchos, with both offenses keeping an even pace to limit the offensive zone for both teams. 

Tensions remained high in the first period, with a few minor fights breaking out and no goals from either side. Alec Johnson was handed a five minute major and a game misconduct for grabbing the cage of a Broncho player. 

Central Oklahoma outshot UNLV 9-3 and would continue to outshoot the Rebels throughout the game.

With 7:21 left in the second period, forward Michael Boutoussov scored off of a rebound for the first goal of the game, and his first goal in the scarlet and gray uniform. 

Boutoussov’s goal came from assists from Max Johnson and Jack Kennedy. 

Rebel goaltender Zach Wickson made three big diving saves while losing his stick in the final moments of the period.

UNLV held a 1-0 lead heading into the second intermission with 15 shots under its belt while Central Oklahoma had 17 shots. 

The Bronchos were quick to tie the game two minutes into the third period with Adam Stalzer scoring a goal assisted by Leeam Tivers and Vitalii Mikhailov. 

Both teams remained evenly paced for the remainder of the night before UCO finished it off with Davin Burton scoring a shot above Wickson’s glove with 58 seconds to go. 

The Rebels pulled in Wickson to gain an extra attacker in hopes of tying the game once more, but the Bronchos held out long enough for the final victory of 2-1. 

“We didn’t play our best game,” head coach Anthony Greener said. “We played into their game. If it wasn’t for Wickson in the third period, things could have gotten out of control. It’s still a learning curve, but we are learning.”

At the end of the night, the Rebels only managed 17 shot attempts compared with the Broncho’s 24 attempts. UNLV had six penalties while UCO had eight penalties. 

Game Two, Oct. 16

The Skatin’ Rebels returned to Arctic Edge Ice Arena on Saturday in hopes of splitting the series, but with multiple players scratched due to injuries, they couldn’t keep up with the Broncho’s strong offense. 

Vince Benedetto earned his first start of the year as he took the net for the Rebels to kick off the game. 

With a rivalry brewing between the two teams, the game started off to a much more physical start compared with the previous night. 

It was not long into the game before Broncho Cooper Krauss made an unassisted goal. Three minutes later, Zach Guerra made another unassisted goal for UCO, putting them on the board for a 2-0 lead. 

Going into the second period, the Bronchos were first up on the scoreboard once again with Stalzer shooting the puck past Bendetto, assisted by Mikhailov and Tivers. 

The Rebels gained the puck for some control with defenseman David Lenzin cutting their lead (3-1) assisted by Daniel Fisher. 

The shortened lead did not last long when Mikhailov scored his own goal for the Bronchos, assisted by Luke Bombardir and Justin-Cole Dubecky to restore the three-point lead. 

With only 23 seconds left in the period, Daniel Fisher and Nick Flanders assisted Angelos Tsalafos for his first goal of the year. 

In the third period, the Bronchos secured the win with two final goals. The first came at 11:48 by Bombardir followed by Krauss’s second goal at 14:56. 

The Bronchos defeated the Rebels 6-2, with both teams tying it up for seven penalties each. UNLV was outshot 33-26, with UCO’s offense hitting the ice strong tonight.  

Up Next

Coming off the double loss, the Skatin’ Rebels (4-2) return home to host the Arizona Wildcats (3-4) at City National Arena on Oct. 22 and 23 with puck drop at 7:30 p.m. for both games. 

Heading into the series, both teams are coming off two losses as Arizona comes off a split series against Arizona State, losing the second game (3-2), also with a loss against Grand Canyon (6-4). 

So far for the season, Arizona’s defense has allowed 23 goals, compared with UNLV’s 16 goals allowed. Offensively, the Wildcats have scored a total of 26 goals for an average of 3.7 goals per game. The Rebels have scored 21 total goals for an average of 3.5 goals per game. 

Max Johnson enters as the top scorer for the Rebels, even after going two games without any goals made. He leads the team with four goals and five assists. 

Brody Selman enters as the top scorer for the Wildcats, with five goals and two assists. Selman has scored one goal per game, minus two fluke games where he was unable to get the puck into the net. 

Looking at the series from a stats point of view, both teams enter with a high chance of scoring ability looking for a strong battle for the offensive zone on the ice. 

The Rebels head into the series with the attitude to play with discipline, strong penalty kills and power-plays for a well-fought battle. 

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