UNLV Hockey prepares to say farewell to senior defenseman Sean Plonski

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Sean Plonski (28) skates around City National Arena for one final time on senior night March 5, 2022. Plonski was honored as a senior and one of the three stars for the night along with his fellow seniors Jared Erickson and Angelos Tsalafos. Photo by Lucas Peltier /// UNLV Athletics

After 121 games played and 5 years spent in the scarlet and gray uniform, defenseman Sean Plonski is set to say his good-byes to the Skatin’ Rebels in a few weeks. 

Ever since he was six years old, Plonski has been playing hockey marking his 18th year with this season. 

Throughout his long hockey career, Plonski accredits most of his support coming from his grandma. 

“She watches every single game. She’s seen more games than my parents have, that’s for sure,” Plonski said. “She texts me after every game to tell me good job, and if I get any penalties she’ll get mad at me. She lives in Massachusetts, so she’s three hours ahead so she stays up pretty late to watch the games. She’s the true MVP.” 

As a young player, he had the privilege of playing under his dad as the coach, who helped make the sport fun for young Plonski.

“My earliest memory from playing is pretty funny,” Plonski said. “I don’t know why, I don’t know what the circumstances were, I just remember I was in a game… I was never really that good. I was just having fun and I remember one game I was on the power play. I was on the blue line and for some reason my teammate passed me the puck.”

“For some reason I didn’t realize we were in the attacking zone so I got the puck and started skating at our goalie- thinking I had a breakaway. Everyone was yelling at me that I was going the wrong way and finally I looked up and realized that was my goalie in front of me.”

Plonski joined UNLV back in the 2017-2018 season, the same year as the Vegas Golden Knights’ inaugural season. 

“I think the best part about starting at the same time as [the Knights] was that they were interested in everything in Vegas,” Plonski said. “They were more open to allowing us to be a part of their opening season as well so they let us go to a lot of the games.”

“The team is really good but I went to their first ever game so that was cool against the Coyotes and they played it out so it was crazy in there. I have a puck.”

The Skatin’ Rebels attended multiple games for the Golden Knights, where they would pass out game-day flyers and pucks and then receive free seats afterwards to watch the games. 

This season was also the first season that the Rebels would be playing at the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division I level. 

Along with the team making the Division jump, upperclassman Cody Williams helped Plonski with the transition of playing for the Rebels. 

“I sat in this corner and I sat next to Cody Williams, who was the team captain my second year,” Plonski said. “He was a good guy to follow. He was always nice and good to me… Yeah, so shout out to Cody Williams for making my first couple years at UNLV pretty chill.”

Plonski’s first season with the Rebels, he scored two goals and one assist in the 26 games he played in for a total of three points. 

During his third season with the team, Plonski was voted assistant captain and even after the successful season the team has had this year, it remains to be one of his proudest achievements. 

He was assistant captain for the 2019-2020 season and was unable to finish out the season due to Nationals being canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The team took a year off from playing when the following season was canceled due to the pandemic, but luckily Plonski chose to come back and play one final season with the Rebels.

“I almost didn’t come back to play this season,” Plonski said. “I didn’t see there being a point, and I thought my time as a Skatin’ Rebel was over. Everyone kept pushing me to play, and I’m actually really glad I did come back. This season with the boys has been amazing.” 

With Plonski making the return for one final year in the scarlet and gray, UNLV went on to have one of their best seasons yet. 

Along with a 16-game winning streak at one point in the season, the Rebels entered the Chicago Classic as the underdogs and returned to Vegas the champions. 

Throughout the tournament, they managed to defeat three top teams to bring home the trophy for the second time with Plonski on the team. 

“I’m actually a two-time Chicago Classic Champion,” Plonski said. “I didn’t get to play the first time because I had homework, but I have the shirt from it. I came back this season and played this year and we won again. It’s a really cool tournament to play in.” 

Over the years with head coach Anthony Vignieri-Greener, Plonski has managed to improve in all aspects of his skating ability. 

“I know something that the coaches told me to work on was like being more into it and having a positive attitude towards things, so that’s just something I worked on this year and I think it went pretty good,” Plonski said. “I know in past seasons there’s always a point where everyone is kind of like it gets to the halfway point of the season everyone thinks it’s been a long season, but that didn’t happen this year.” 

One of Plonski’s favorite memories as a Rebel has been the annual golf tournament at Bear’s Best. The tournament is one of the team’s biggest fundraising events. 

It’s in August of every year, before the season starts and it’s one of the first times that the Skatin’ Rebels have the opportunity to meet everyone before hitting the ice together. 

“I just remember showing up to the first one ever, I was wearing like my red polo because we didn’t have team polos so I was just wearing UNLV colors,’ Plonski said. “Everyone was just sitting out there chilling, awkwardly introducing each other. It’s like every year it grows every year we do it more and more like everyone knows each other now and it’s more of just- it’s awesome.”

Plonski will cherish every memory he’s made as a Rebel as he prepares to say his good-byes to the team after Nationals. 

Plonski will play in his final games representing the scarlet and gray on HockeyTV as the Skatin’ Rebels begin the first Nationals game on Friday, March 11 with a puck drop at 8:15 a.m. PST.

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