Wednesday, November 8, 2017

By Lee Samuels

Las Vegas – Can you feel the tension? 

Everyone involved in the UNLV Rebels hockey program – players, coaches, execs – are on ultra edge as the Rebels – in their first season of playing high-level ACHA D1 hockey – take on two awesome powers beginning Thursday night at the City National Arena.

First on Thursday, the Rebels face nationally-ranked Jamestown of North Dakota. Then on Friday and Saturday there are games against mighty #1 ranked Minot which has a record of 13-0-0.

Each game has a 7:30 pm faceoff.

It just doesn’t get bigger – and we’re not just saying this but so is UNLV head coach Anthony Greener.

“Yea this is big,” he said. “Should be some good crowds watching these games.”

UNLV is coming off a mega OT win at nationally ranked Iowa State

And there is more good news.

The very popular UNLV assistant coach Nick Robone – a victim of the mass shooting in Las Vegas – has recovered nicely and returns to the UNLV bench. He will bring spirit and inspiration onto the Rebels bench.

“Having Nick back is awesome,” Greener said. “The main thing we want to do is get Nick back in action as normal as possible. No distractions. Nick is going to run the ‘D’ like he always does.”

Greener added “all three games are huge this weekend.

“We need to stick to our systems and let the games play out. But it all starts with Jamestown on Thursday night. They are coming here with a two game win streak and we are coming off our biggest win of the season (OT/Shootout over at Iowa State).

‘Our lines are staying the same. If we make a change it will be after our pre-game skate on Thursday.”

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Team records: UNLV 7-4-0, Jamestown 7-6-0, #1 ranked Minot 13-0-0

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Star goal scorer Beau Ricketts of Las Vegas lives in Minot, ND and when he drove his truck towards the Maysa Arena there this morning the temperature was a mind-numbing 10 degrees. 

Beau, 23, three seasons ago was a 30-goal scorer for the Gabe Gauthier-coached WSHL Las Vegas Storm. Beau now plays for the First Western Bank and Trust hockey club in the Minot Senior League.

”We are defending champions,” he said.