UNLV hockey earns first road victory with sweep of Utah

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Rebel Angelos Tsalafos sets up a host against the Utah Utes during their second meeting of the year on Oct. 9, 2021. Photo by Kayla Faasse.

The Skatin’ Rebels picked up their first road series sweep of the season after defeating the Utah Utes (5-9) in their two-game series at Salt Lake City. 

While improving to 4-0 against Utah, UNLV also improved to 2-2 for road games this season after a rocky series against Central Oklahoma in October. 

Game One, Nov. 12

Once again, the Rebels took the first win of the series in overtime for a 4-3 victory over the Utes, earning themselves their first road win of the season. 

“I expected them to play better on their home ice,” head coach Anthony Greener said. “Obviously, we had a really good start, then they had a really good second period and they cut it down and just looked for those ten minutes in the third period.” 

“It’s what we expected. I’m proud to see how our guys came out. It’s never easy to come here and play in the alleviation.”

It didn’t take long for the Rebels to put themselves on the scoreboard with the lead. Less than two minutes into the game, Hunter Muzzillo knocked the puck into the net off of assists from Nick Flanders and Jayson Dimizio. 

Six minutes later, Ute Steven Pawlow was sent to the penalty box for hooking, giving UNLV its first power-play of the night. 

Muzzillo took advantage of the fewer Utes on the ice, scoring his second goal with Paxton Malone and Luke Burke assisting. 

The Skatin’ Rebels entered the second period leading 2-0, but the lead wouldn’t last long with UNLV letting its guard down. 

Utah stepped up its offense as UNLV began to settle into relaxed skating positions, finally putting themselves on the board. Mckay Pond scored for the Utes with assists coming from Landon Langenbrunner and Dylan Dix only seven minutes into the period. 

Shortly after, Max Johnson earned himself the only penalty of the period by cross-checking, but the Rebels were able to remain strong defensively for a penalty kill. 

Ute Langenbrunner finished the period out by putting the puck into the net to tie the score up at 2 as both teams headed back to the locker room. 

Benjamin Mickel started the scoring in the third period, assisted by Wyatt Light and Alexander King to give the Utes their first lead of the night. 

With 4:05 on the clock, Sean Plonski was sent to the box for an interference putting the Utes on a power play. 

Brendan Manning managed to score a short-handed goal for the Rebels, assisted by Dimizio, to tie the score once again 3-3. 

Both teams fought hard in the remaining few minutes to break the tie, but neither came out successfully, sending the game into overtime. 

It only took 2:15 before Jared Erickson sent the puck into the net, assisted by Dimizio and Muzzillo, securing the Rebel victory for the night. 

“Honestly, I didn’t even see it go in,” Erickson said. “I couldn’t tell it went in from the angle I was at, and I looked at the ref and he kind of just nodded nonchalantly and gave us the goal signal and that was kind of it. I’m just happy we got out of there with a win.”

The three stars of the night consisted of Muzzillo taking first star honors with two goals, followed by Erickson with the game-winning goal and goaltender Zach Wickson with 35 saves to end the night. 

Game Two, Nov. 13

The Skatin’ Rebels returned to Salt Lake City Sports Complex to face the Utah Utes for the second day in a row, defeating them 5-1. 

Max Johnson was sent to the penalty box for slashing 1:29 into the game, where he was taunted by a loud Utah student section as they set the momentum up for the night. 

The Rebels were first up on the scoreboard with Jake Berry and Blaise Arkle assisting Wyatt’s goal, causing the cheering Ute fans to slowly simmer down to silence.

UNLV outshot Utah 10-9 in the first period, not allowing a single goal past goaltender Vince Benedetto. 

Early in the second period, Langenbrunner snuck the puck past Benedetto to tie the game up 1-1 with an assist from Che Landikusic. 

The Rebels took their time to respond to the goal as the puck slid all over the ice, and the offenses swapped possession in a back-and-forth game. 

With seven minutes left in the period, Dimizio stole the lead for UNLV with a goal assisted by Burke and Alec Johnson. 

A few minutes later,  Burke scored a goal of his own with assists coming from Alec Johnson once again and Wyatt. 

Despite scoring twice, UNLV ended the second period being outshot by Utah 18-12. 

The Rebels continued to play a consistently paced game with two more goals added to the scoresheet during the third period, securing the win. 

Max Johnson finally got his chance to show off to the Ute student section, scoring his first goal of the night, assisted by Wyatt and Arkle. Max Johnson made sure to wave to the fans as he skated back to the bench to celebrate with the Rebels. 

With three minutes on the clock, Max Johnson slid the puck back into the net for the final goal of the night. For the remainder of time, the Rebels played “keep away” with the puck slowly moving around in their zone. 

Max Johnson improved to 16 total points for the season with eight goals and eight assists to maintain the position of top scorer on the team for UNLV. 

The Rebels finished the night off with a 5-1 victory, despite being outshot 37-32. 

The three stars of the night were awarded to Benedetto taking the top spot with 30 total saves, followed by Wyatt with one goal and two assists and Max Johnson with two goals. 

Up Next 

UNLV returns to Las Vegas for a short few days to recover before hitting the road once again to travel to Illinois next weekend.

After a month of away series, the Skatin’ Rebels will finally return to City National Arena on Nov. 10 and 11 for a matchup series against Arizona State. Puck drop will be at 7:30 p.m. for both games. 

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