Friday, September 1, 2017

By Lee Samuels

Las Vegas – Hockey, as we know it, will never be the same again in our town.

With a big crowd buzzing to watch a scrimmage game the UNLV Rebels unveiled the glitter and the bigness of an amazing two-sheet City National Arena.

On the ice UNLV’s players in red jerseys played teammates in grey jerseys. The scoreboard ticked away but the story behind the story was the staggering great arena.

There are two sheets of NHL regulation sized ice. Each rink is four stories tall. Richie Crossley of Las Vegas expertly steered a 2017 Zamboni model 546 between periods on Arena B where the game was played. In the bleachers hockey fans included fathers and mothers of players who skated in town years ago. Woody Woodbury, whose son Tyler was a big roller star in town, was in the bleachers as well as Gene Krametbauer, the long-time GM of many youth hockey teams and Tony Robone who is best friends with Larry Sanford whose Crystal Palace roller rink was the first stop in hockey for the biggest stars in Las Vegas.

Plus there was Las Vegas hockey mom Wendy Roksvold whose son Kyle Callahan was a star player on the ice for many seasons and whose younger son Gunnar is a skater who is also is a unique hockey artist.

UNLV’s locker room is the biggest and most comfortable the Rebels have ever been in. 

On the ice – which is also the practice facility of the NHL Vegas Golden Knights – are sponsors like Findlay Automotive, The Downtown D Hotel and Geico. Around the ice were UNLV execs and head coach Anthony Greener and his assistant Nick Robone. Kendall Galor had her medical kit ready for duty, Megan Edmunds, the pr whiz for the Rebels, had her devices brightly lit and on high alert for live scoring updates.

Greener, the greatest captain ever for UNLV, is a coach dealing with a team transition from ACHA D2 to ACHA D1. Which means UNLV will soon be dealing with bigger, stronger teams with a bigger edge to their game.

Teams like Arizona State.

That team was mentioned quite a few times as UNLV’s future most hated rival.

The Las Vegas players on the ice included the gifted goal scorer Cody Williams and a more physical type player in Mitchell Province. There are many new players mostly from Canada and who were stars in junior hockey.

But the buzz from the coaches and the hockey parents was this:

“Look how far hockey has come in Las Vegas.”

From the Blue Line – UNLV has 30 players rostered, 20 can dress for a game so practices are going to have a bite to them….Jared Joerger was the referee…Chris Francis and Jeff May were coaches for one of the Rebels team, Chris Rial and Scott Rensmon worked with the other Rebels players…There was a bright festive feel to the game and among the fans in the bleachers.