Thursday, September 22, 2016
UNLV GOING BIGTIME WITH SIGNING OF NIKLAS GIERS
By Lee Samuels
Las Vegas – The construction of the UNLV Rebels from an ACHA level team to eventually a NCAA Division 1 level team began the moment the Rebels signed a massively-great defenseman in Niklas Giers, a gifted ‘6’2, 201-pound player who can skate, get the puck out of zones, blast down the ice and sharpshoot hard shots at net.
UNLV coaches Anthony Greener and Nick Robone, who are off today with the Rebels on a three-game swing through Utah, spotted Giers last winter while he was playing for the WSHL Valencia Flyers who have one of the best programs in the league. Valencia was in town and for the annual December WSHL Showcase at the Las Vegas Ice Center. It took Greener and Robone about a few micro seconds watching Giers – a WSHL All-Star Defenseman – blast around the Ice Center’s North Rink at high speed.
In Las Vegas the greatest defenseman is Eddie Del Grosso who was a star player on every level he played which included the USHL Indiana Ice and the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Justin Johnson, a defenseman who skated with Del Grosso on coach Rob Pallin’s great 2001-02 AA Las Vegas Mustangs midget major team, played his game at higher speed, a defenseman who could also break out and streak towards enemy nets.
Giers has all of that skillset. He grew up in Southern California and played midget level hockey in programs including the AAA Cal Heat 16u and the AA Cal Riptide 18u. Giers truely became a defensive force playing three seasons at a high level with the WSHL Valencia Flyers who are a top program in that league.
Greener, in his second season as head coach at UNLV, said “Niklas is a an offensive defenseman who can make the first pass out of the zone or wheel the puck out himself. On the d-side he has a huge reach and is very tough to beat out of the corner because of his size and skill. He is a solid defenseman who has a cannon of a shot.”
The signing of Giers, two top goalies and other elite players are designed to take heat and pressure off of UNLV’s superstar goalie Terry Martin. It was Martin who played at an extremely high level last season but the UNLV coaches knew they needed more defensive help this season to go deeper into the ACHA Western Division playoffs and advance to the U.S. Nationals.
Great offenses also helps a goalie. UNLV has one of the best goal scorers in Cody Williams who really is one of the best Rebels of all time. The signing of new goal scorer, freshman Dion Antisin – an awesome talent – will help Cody score even more goals this season. Cody had 39 goals for UNLV a year ago.
UNLV in its first two games against a San Diego State team which came into the Las Vegas Ice Center and played hard with passion – has only allowed five goals – 2.5 goals per game. The UNLV coaches know that goals allowed number should be dropping soon.
“I knew when we recruited Niklas he would be the best defenseman among all Western teams,” Greener said. “So we shall see. He still has work to do.
Greener paused, then said “but Niklas Giers has the potential to be the best who has ever worn a UNLV jersey.”
From the Blue Line – Niklas is studying Biology and is in Honors classes at UNLV…Niklas last summer told UNLV’s pr director Megan Edmunds in a story “…I like the way UNLV treats their players and I very excited to play for this organization.”