Saturday, October 29, 2016



By Lee Samuels

Las Vegas – There was a timeout with a few minutes to play – the powerful WSHL Ontario Avalanche were losing and in panic mode – when WSHL Las Vegas Storm goalie Rhett Bruckner turned towards his net, took his mask off, brushed a hand through his hair and took a long swig of ice cold water from his red plastic bottle. He looked towards the rink glass and nodded his head to a friend. In a few moments he was about to make hockey history at the Las Vegas Ice Center.

Bruckner stopped incoming big blasts all night long, Las Vegas got a collective all-out effort from forwards, defensemen, coaches, you name it – and took apart the 11-2-0 Ontario Avalanche 6-3 in a staggering performance on the North Rink at the Las Vegas Ice Center.

And Bruckner, the new star goalie in town, is only 17.

It was a decisive play from Las Vegas defenseman Vito Carlo who during an all-out maddening late-game attack by Ontario, used his stick blade to tip a pass and send a puck flying over to a teammate which helped win the game. Las Vegas, leading 4-3, then got an empty net goal for a 5-3 lead enroute to three goal win.

Storm coach Gabe Gauthier said “…Rhett Bruckner was calm and smart in the net during all of the game which is important and Vito Carlo at the end did exactly what we practice – when under attack and defending keep your stick down on the ice in passing lanes.”

Las Vegas has gifted players who are about to break out. In the first period Nikita Pintsuv scored two short handed goals to give Las Vegas a 2-1 lead. Isaiah Letendre, a quick, fast forward who has tremendous acceleration, scored as did two new players for the Storm, Taylor Karr and Alex Roth. Jean-Christophe Lachapelle, a leader on ice, had one of his greatest games. Jake McKenna, one of the best defensemen in the WSHL, had two assists for the Storm. Jake and Vito helped shut down Ontario in their late-game attack runs from all directions.

“We played together tonight,” said Rhett, smiling and sizing up the three-goal win against an Ontario team which will definitely make the playoffs.

Rhett last season played for legendary coach Jack Bowkus with the AAA L.A. Jr Kings 16u team. Rhett’s goalie coaches were Tommy Tartaglione – who years ago was such a big star for the AAA Cal Wave – and Jamie Storr who played in the NHL.  Here in Las Vegas Rhett’s goalie coach is Alex Bjbrk from Wisconsin.

And on Saturday night a very young Rhett kept his temperature on the cool level when Ontario’s fire-breathing forwards charged towards him the last moments of the game.

Bruckner is so good wanted to play for the USHL Tri City Storm, the parent club of the WSHL Las Vegas Storm. The Tri City folks suggested he play in Las Vegas for a season and get more familiar with the intenseness of junior hockey.

From the Blue Line – Rhett Bruckner said he used to put Blue Powerade into his water bottle at the net but this season switched to cold water “right out of the tap.”….Rhett has battled back from two hip operations….Seth Bergeron, a callup from the AAA Nevada Storm 16u team, played very well…Jasper Fitzi, from Switzerland, made some tricky effective moves on the ice…#9 Jeffery Morgan has the look and feel of a bigtime goal scorer – it’s the smooth way he skates and how he drives towards the net…Vito Carlo is best friends with Las Vegas skater Jimmy Samuels who is now playing for ACHA D3 Kansas University…The WSHL initally posted the final score as 5-3 for Las Vegas but it was actually 6-3 according to our notebook….Las Vegas is now 3-8-1 overall this season.