Monday, March 5, 2018

By Lee Samuels

Twenty teams in the field.

Each one thinks they can win it all.

This is what UNLV Rebels hockey coach Anthony Greener is dealing with when his team takes on the Drexel Dragons of Pennsylvania in a first-round game at the ACHA D1 Nationals on Thursday in Columbus, Ohio.

UNLV is ranked #13, Drexel #20.

The winner takes on #4 ranked Ohio.

Greener said “…we are going to practice Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and then our team will be on a flight which goes to Chicago then connects to Ohio where we will get a good night’s sleep, have a brunch and play 2 pm Thursday.

“Got to win the first game at the Nationals before you focus on Game Two.

“But I have a lot of faith in our group. They put in the hard work and for them to make it this far is a great honor.” 

Drexel got to the Nationals by beating long-time rival Villanova to win the ECHA league title. The Dragons are 22-11-1. They lost to Colorado 10-3 early in the season but split against Colorado State – losing 8-1, then winning 3-2 in OT.

As a player and former captain of UNLV Greener skated in many playoff games for the Rebels.

“There is a different feel and vibe in the (locker) room when everyone knows this could be his last shift of that season.

“There’s added pressure that I used to love to feel as a player.

“This is what you play the game for and why we wake up 7 am Monday through Friday to have the players work out and stay in shape to get this point and prove themselves.”

But there is something else which tugs at Greener.

“There is zero video on Drexel. I cannot tell you if they are good as the talk you hear or not. We’re are going dark on this one.”

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Nationals Notebook –  There are 60 teams in ACHA D1. The Top 20 ranked teams go to the Nationals…Drexel beat Villanova 3-2 in OT to win the ECHA League gold for an automatic bid to the U.S. Nationals….Minot State is the #1 ranked team in the field…UNLV was an awesome 22-9-0 overall in their debut season in ACHA D1 with a 14-3-0 home ice record at the City National Arena. ….Hometown Las Vegas players for UNLV include goal scorers Joseph Kaszupski (Henderson NV), Cody Williams and defenseman Mitchell Province….