Cody Williams of UNLV celebrating…..
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
By Lee Samuels
Las Vegas – The future is now for UNLV Rebels
There is no easy path to greatness but the UNLV hockey team headed by coaches Anthony Greener, Nick Robone, GM Zee Khan and Director of Team Operations Arturo Castro is the best the Rebels have every put together as they take one giant step into ACHA Divison 1 action this season.
It all starts on Friday night when UNLV takes on a brand new rival in ASU at the Oceanside Arena in Tempe, Arizona.
And how did UNLV get to this great level of play….
Head coach Anthony Greener was in the lineup in the very first UNLV game many years ago at the Santa Fe Stations Ice Arena in Las Vegas. A skilled UCLA team was in town with players wearing their light blue jerseys with gold helmets. As a big crowd watched a physical UNLV team won their first ever game.
Great hockey isn’t new in Las Vegas. Back in 1999-2000 coach Rob Pallin put together the first great team with the AA Las Vegas Mustangs 18u which included the Triple Threat Line of Travis Roseberry, Spike Neely and JC Caron. That team was the first to actually win games – and league titles as well. And Pallin later coached Greener in big games in youth hockey and Pallin eventually became head coach of the UNLV Rebels.
Pallin had great high action UNLV teams which rarely lost on home ice. Greener always played on the top line for UNLV and he usually wore a C or an A on his red jersey.
After the Pallin era the UNLV program had problems qualifying for post season tournament action but the Greener, Robone led teams quickly changed all of that.
The city of Las Vegas and UNLV students have embraced the Greener, Robone coached Rebels hockey teams which had a different more skilled look to them. They began recruiting older players who had played in junior hockey fire and in those heavy action Saturday night wars.
And this UNLV team is studded with junior hockey players who know what high tension hockey is all about before large hometown crowds.
Then there is hometown player Cody Williams. He is all of 5’6, 145 pounds and yet he has no problem skating hard into the shark waters around enemy nets. In two seasons he has scored 72 goals along with 68 assists
Like most head coaches Greener likes to worry while on the bench. His suit jacket is usually unbuttened seconds into the game and he takes long looks at small notecards he has written on and is holding in his left hand.
“The speed of the game from ACHA D2 to ACHA D1 is night and day,” he said. “Plus each ACHA D1 team has 20 players who can play – like play real good so their depth is going to be so great. It will be interesting to see what happens this week”
Greatest ACHA D2 rivals? Greener said San Diego State, the good SDSU clubs from a few years ago were among the best.
UNLV fans have packed the arenas – be it the Santa Fe Stations Ice Arena which is no longer there, the SoBe Ice Arena on North Rancho Drive or the Las Vegas Ice Center on Flamingo Avenue. Hometown fans like teams that win. It makes them feel good. Older fans, whose sons and daughters played in these hometown rinks years ago, hunger for hot game action and winning Rebels teams.
UNLV is styling now. Their new home is the brand new City National Arena. And the Rebels are the only team in town with a top athletic trainer in Kendall Galor, an outstanding publicist in Megan Edmunds and a team photographer.
So we say so long to great ACHA D2 teams like SDSU, San Jose State, Long Beach State and those great ACHA D2 visiting teams like UConn and Boston University who played so hard and gave it all they had.
There are new worlds for UNLV to conquor this season.
And when you step back and take a long look at UNLV’s hockey program you know there is an even bigger level they want to play on.
Rinkboard Notebook – Greener has 31 players on the Rebels roster and for a game he can have 19 players, two goalies…There are no seniors on this team…7 juniors, 8 sophomores, 16 freshmen
Baz Assaf, Viktor Brask, Erik Eidessen, Alex Feese, Connor Hetzel, Tristan Mayer, Mitchell Province, Trevor Ruiz, Jake Saxe, Jesse Simone, Hunter Speier, Cody Williams
D’Andre John, Joe Kaszupski, Jacob Kearley, Zach Lawson, Daniel Luyten, Sean Plonski, Chase Torontow, Jonas Gordon, Elijiah Barriga, Ben Giesbrecht, Sheldon Brett, Kameron Fink, Matt Painchaud, PJ Silvera, Zachary Schlitt, Michael McDaniels, Jonah Pearson, Colin Robin, Riley Williams
GM – Zee Khan
Head coach – Anthony Greener
Assistant Coach – Nick Robone
Director of Team Operations – Arturo Castro
Team Equipment Manager – Anthony Napolitano
Athletic Trainer – Kendall Galor
Social Media, PR, Web Editor – Megan Edmunds