UNLV’s next game is this Friday night. UNLV vs Midland University at the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas.
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
By Lee Samuels
It’s hard to win.
Every game has unique challenges.
Yet the UNLV Rebels playing in their debut season in ACHA D1 – a giant step up facing higher quality clubs – are 19-8-1 and ranked #11 in the nation.
The wins include a shocker over #1 ranked Minot on November 10 at City National Arena.
The Rebels historically have played on the ACHA D2 level. When the program was at its darkest hour there was a season at ACHA D3.
Then came the Rebels decision at the end of last season to move into a new arena – the City National Arena on Pavillion Drive over the Red Rock Hotel-Casino – along with a massive reconstruction of its roster to raise the skill level of the players on the ice to compete in ACHA D1.
Head coach Anthony Greener, UNLV’s greatest captain when he played for the Rebels, assistant coach Nick Robone and GM Zee Khan did a lot of the crunch work to recruit and build a winning club which is no easy task no matter what level is.
UNLV’s top scorers today are Elijiah Barriga with 21 goals, Joseph Kaszupski 16, hometown player Cody Williams 11, Jake Saxe 7, Kameron Fink 7, Tristan Mayer 6 and Jonah Pearson 6. The goalies include Ben Giesbrecht, 9-4-0, 2.31 gaa, 91.6% save percentage and Alex Feese 7-3-0, 2.76 gaa, 90.6% save percentage. The top defensemen include Jonas Gordon and Jake Kearley who likes to control the puck and then get the attack blue-sparked.
Greener said this week “our job isn’t done yet even though our skill level on our team is endless…and when we’ve played together as one we are at our best.”
Rebels bench coach Nick Robone added “We saw a team with a lot of raw talent that is finally buying into our culture and team goals.
“It is always tough when you begin the season with 20 new faces. There are plenty of ups, downs, adversity. Overall however we are in a good spot going into the final month of our season. It’s been fun watching our team progress and establish a brotherhood they will always remember,” Robone added.
Zee Khan, Vegas Hockey’s GM of the Year, said about this UNLV team “…we have achieved a lot, reaching the #10 spot in the national rankings and sitting on a 19-8-0 record. We play in front of sellout crowds in a great college hockey environment.
Zee added “…we have put ourselves in position to compete for the National Championship in our Year One. It’s a long way from where we were three years ago and we are always trending up.
“Lots left to accomplish.”
UNLV ADDS TWO GAMES VS U OF ARIZONA
Rebels GM Zee Khan said UNLV has added two games to its schedule. The Rebels will take on the University of Arizona at City National Arena, Las Vegas on Friday, Feb. 23 and Saturday, Feb 24.
“We want to keep our team engaged and playing at a high level instead of having a three-week break going into the U.S. Nationals,” Zee said.
The ACHA D1 will have a field of 20 teams going into the post-season playoffs.