Egg white omelet, a touch of cheese. Hold the toast. Coffee, black. Iphone on text alert. At last, Las Vegas hockey coach Rob Pallin pushed back his Minnesota Twins ballcap and said he was ready to talk hockey to reporters at a breakfast roundtable.
Also attending was Frank ‘Gramps’ Perrone who has spent years on the UNLV Rebels bench when the big teams came into town at the SoBe Ice Arena.
Pallin has been losing weight. “I got as high as 207,” he was saying while taking a sip of hot coffee. “I feel good now, but want to lose more, get ready for the new season.”
Here in Las Vegas Pallin for years coached AAA/AA midget level teams, the UNLV Rebels and was with the ECHL Las Vegas Wranglers the last two seasons. Every team skated at a high level during regular seasons and the best teams skated all the way to the U.S. Nationals. He did all of this while being employed as the manager of the SoBe Ice Arena inside of the Fiesta Rancho Station Casino property on North Rancho Drive.
Next Thursday – after coaching hockey for 23 seasons here in Las Vegas, the coach is boarding an international flight and is heading out of town – far away, in Hungary, to coach a professional team. He leaves on Thursday and says he cannot wait to get there. His new roster includes Adam ‘Stick’ Naglich of Las Vegas. He played for Las Vegas years ago for the Mustangs 18u team. Andrew Sauer, a center who played last winter for the Wranglers, is going to Hungary and it looks like giant goal scorer Colton Yellowhorn is going there as well. Colton, from Canada, scored 36 goals for the ECHL Ontario Reign last winter, then was callled up by the AHL Manchester Monarchs.
Pallin’s new team is Sapa Fehervar A19. He will report right to them with head coach Marty Raymond, a close friend and who was coach of the Bakersfield Condors in the ECHL a few years ago.
Pallin will also coach Hungary’s 20u national hockey team during his second week there.
A19’s arena has 4,200 seats for hockey. “They get 4,600 or more jammed in there for game nights. It’s the only game in town and it’s big with the folks in town.”
Pallin took a long sip of hot coffee, leaned back and said years ago his best hockey coach was Frank Serratore years ago with the Austin Mavericks junior team in Minnesota.
“Frank was the most fierce coach I ever played for,” Pallin said. “He always wanted his players to compete, get better, and to win. I learned a lot from him and we still keep in touch. Frank coaches at Air Force and the other day we spoke about Joey Sullivan, the great young Las Vegas player.”
When Pallin hit Las Vegas over 20 years ago the hometown midget-level hockey team was coming off a 4-31 season. Invading teams from L.A ran up scores. It was a dark time for hockey here in town.
All of that was about to change when Pallin was named head coach of the AA Las Vegas Mustangs 18u in 1999-2000. It didn’t take long when Las Vegas teams began to push back and it launched an tremendous run of hard-skating, exciting hockey. In just two seasons, Las Vegas was good enough to beat the top Western teams including the very powerful AAA L.A. Jr Kings 18u team before the biggest crowd ever packed into the Santa Fe Stations Ice Arena.
- When Century Theatres years ago bought the floor space and moved into the Santa Fe Station Casino the ice rink there had to move. Initially, the new rink was going to go Sunset Station in Henderson, then to Texas Station and at last, settled in as the SoBe Ice Arena at the Fiesta Station Hotel-Casino where it will celebrate its 9th birthday next month.
- Pallin said he was chewed out by Serratore in the locker room between periods while playing for the Austin Mavericks junior team. Pallin was off on recruiting visits to colleges for a few weekends and said he “didn’t play that well” when he returned. After a first period Serratore said in front of the team…”Pallin you won’t be playing in college hockey. You’ll soon be playing in Junior C hockey.”….Pallin: “It was a wakeup call from the coach and I knew I had to bear down.”
- Pallin said the best midget level player he coached in Las Vegas was 61-goal scorer Josh Jasek in 2001-02. “He was a strong goal scorer who charged the net, went in and scored the biggest of goals that season. He wasn’t the best-ever in junior, college or pro hockey, but for one season he was the best midget player there was in Las Vegas.”
- Pallin said he has three of his own sports cards saved at the house – two are from roller hockey. He skated for the Las Vegas Flash.
- With his new team in Hungary, Pallin on game nights will be in charge of the power play units and the defensemen – the same he did as an assistant coach the last two seasons with the Las Vegas Wranglers.
- Pallin said there is a group of ‘2002-03 skaters at our rink who can play and take on any of the big L.A. teams. There are 13 elite players on this team. This is a phenominal group. The coach is Ken Quinney with the Las Vegas Jr Wranglers.”