By Lee Samuels

Las Vegas – It’s official. The WSHL Fresno Monsters are coming into town to take on the WSHL Las Vegas Storm in a Best of Three playoff series beginning Thursday, March 16 at the Las Vegas Ice Center.

The hometown Storm has a much more skilled, blue-streak faster, deeper team and has been constructed by GM/head coach Gabe Gauthier to go deep into the playoffs. Fresno will counter all of that with its growly roughness and physicality particularly in the corner areas of the Las Vegas Ice Center. All of that makes this an intriguing first round matchup.

This is the second time in its three seasons Las Vegas has qualified for the playoffs. The Storm had a team record number of wins with 25 and most goals with 216 during this season.

Fresno’s top goal scorer is hometown star Cody Key who grew up in that city. He has 52 goals in two seasons with the Monsters.

In an opposite Western Division bracket the WSHL Ontario Avalanche and WSHL San Diego Sabers open in a Best of the Three series next weekend as well. Eric Williams, an ultra skilled defenseman and captain of Ontario is from Las Vegas.

Both Las Vegas and Fresno were 25-22-5 in the regular season. Las Vegas was 4-2-0 vs Fresno.

Las Vegas was 14-9-3 overall on home ice at the Las Vegas Ice Center.

The top two teams Long Beach Bombers and Valencia Flyers in the WSHL Western Division have a bye in the first round.

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Here are the dates and times of the first round matchup here in town:

Fresno Monsters vs. Las Vegas Storm. All games will be on the North Rink at the Las Vegas Ice Center.

Thursday, March 16 – Fresno at Las Vegas, 7 pm

Friday, March 17 – Fresno at Las Vegas, 6:15 pm

Saturday, March 18 (if needed) – Fresno at Las Vegas

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Fresno top goal scorers – Cody Key 32, Nakita Anistratenko 27, Andrew Pelligrino 22, Kolton Huff 21, Michael Ballard 20

Las Vegas top goal scorers – Nitkia Pintusov 43, Isiaiah Letendre 32, Jeffery Morgan 32, Ted Astrom 23, Sam Sykes 20