A Hockey Adventure You Will Never Forget


Based on a True Story

By Lee Samuels and Mary Cate Zurfluh

Las Vegas –  “What’s Apache Jones all about,” coach Rob Pallin was asking Tommy Ricketts at a team meeting which included Anthony Greener, Kendell Galor, Dave Francis and Gramps.

Tommy said “he was a five-time all-star in Utah. Made goal scoring look easy. Then he messed up in a goal medal game, missed an easy shot, Utah lost the game and when it was over his coach R.C. Rock snapped Apache’s stick across his knee in the locker room. That was a few years ago. Apache basically went away, to where, no one knows, but they say he in Las Vegas and we need him to play for our team next week.”

Tommy turned a page in a black binder.

“Oh and he practices remote viewing.”

“What’s that,” Rob said.

Kendell said “Apache Jones can see the future. Right now he knows we are looking for him and he also knows his old coach R.C. Rock is bringing the AAA Utah Red Stars into town to play our team at SummerBlast 2018. So gentlemen we are dealing with an unique individual who can play the game and do it intelligently.”

“So where he is, Tommy,” Rob asked Tommy Ricketts.

Greener said ‘pure goal scorers never stop playing. It’s what’s inside of them. They are, like Kendell said, the special ones on the ice. He’s want to play. I know I would.”


Just then hockey dad Steve Allen sent a text.

“Saw Apache Jones over at the Ice Gardens on Swenson. Chatted with him around midnight. Seemed real nice. Said he works over at Frontier Stamp Shop behind a 7-11 on Charleston near Jones. Doesn’t want to play the game anymore he said.”

Rob said “let’s get over there now.”


Outside the stamp shop there were four hockey sticks lined up to the right of the front door.

“Those are Humboldt Broncos sticks,” Kendell said.

She turned and looked at all of them.

“The pain of those losing those players will never ever go away,” she said, brushing away teardrops.

Gramps said “I pray for those boys every day.”


Inside it was dimly lit. Apache Jones was hunched over at the counter looking at an 1851 Scott #12 pair of stamps on plate glass.  He wore a white headband which was dotted with small different colored crystals.

“Darkness,” he said.

The room went dark  Apache turned on a small Optic light, then leaned over and there were a swirl of different lights, then a ray of violet light went right onto the stamp.

On a notepad Apache wrote “…original gum, intense shade with a 1989 PF Certificate. Value, about $17,000.”


The lights came back on.

“That’s a real one, that stamp,” Apache said.

Then he looked right at the group.

“No I’m not playing. Coach said I was not good. Couldn’t make a decision. So that’s that.”


Rob said “you can play, you know you can and we need you.”

“None of you get it. R.C. Rock is not just about coaching hockey. He hurts people, takes things away,” Apache said.

He paused.

“Who has the Gretzy signed jersey,’ Apache said.

Greener said “I do. Best hockey collectible I ever had. You should see it.”

“You don’t have it anymore,” Apache said.

Greener looked towards his grandfather Gramps.

“Been looking for it son,” he said. “It’s somewhere in the house.”


Who is Skeeter? Apache asked.

Gramps smiled “she’s a baby rink cat. Likes to hide among the hockey sticks on game nights. Oh, what a lovely little one.”

Apache looked at Gramps.

“R.C. Rock has your beloved rink cat.”

“Oh, no,” Gramps said.


“See none of you understand. R.C. Rock likes to hurt people. Hockey gives him that opportunity.

“Oh, and R.C. Rock signed up the Thompson Twins – two enforcers,” Apache added.

Greener said ‘they were playing in junior hockey with the Wichita Thunder.”

Apache smiled

“Not anymore,” he said. “The Thompson Twins are coming to town wearing AAA Utah Red Star jerseys.


“Will you play against the Red Stars. We need you,” coach Rob said.

“Will Kendell be on the bench tomorrow night,” Apache said.

Rob said “of course, she will be on the bench.”

“Not worried about me in the game. Worried what I may do to others. Will need her to help them. 

“Me, all I want is one more goal.  One more goal and then I’m done,” Apache said.


The game was played at the Ice Gardens, a small rink on Swenson just off of Charleston. The arena was jammed with fans a hour before the game.

Rob told Apache “go to the pro shop. Dave Francis wants to see you. He has your skates.”

There Dave Francis said “years ago I saw you Apache as a very young player in town. Oh how you skated around everyone. You reminded me of my son Chris who scored so many goals for Las Vegas teams while growing up.  I sharpened your skates real good.”

Dave handed the skates to Apache. 

“Good for two goals, maybe more,” Dave said.

Dave turned and poured some coffee into a paper cup.

“Means a lot that you are playing for us,” Dave said.

Before the game Peppers, the Zamboni driver, made a sudden stop right in front of the Utah Red Stars bench and there was a loud sound and all kinds of black smoke came pouring out of the Zamboni.  Utah coach R.C. Rock made a move towards Peppers when the referee Adam Stio told him to get back onto the bench.

That is when Greener noticed the Utah stick boy was wearing his signed Gretzy jersey.

Greener made a move towards R.C. Rock and referee Stio came over and said “Greener, stay on your side not his side.”

Gramps looked over and heard something very familiar – a soft meow, like a crying one, coming from the Utah bench. 

“Skeeter…Skeeter,” Gramps shouted as the small rink kitten peeped his head out of a stick bag on the Utah bench.

“Missing something Gramps,” said R.C. Rock, holding up Skeeter by the scruff of his neck and looking over towards Gramps.

Greener lost it and made a charge towards R.C. Rock. Refeee Stio said “stay on you own side of the bench. I am telling you for the last time.”

“Stay calm everyone,” Kendell Galor advised on the Las Vegas bench. 


Just before faceoff coach Rob told Apache “…work with your linemates, be focused, look for your opportunities.”


It was a hard fought game. Three periods of ultra heated action. Referee Adam Stio was a busy official separating everyone on the ice.

Apache scored the game-winner, then skated off the ice, took off his skates and went out of a side door.

Greener went over to the Utah bench and retrieved his signed Gretzy jersey. Skeeter gingerly made her way over to the Las Vegas bench and into the arms of Gramps.


That was the last game ever played at the Ice Gardens on Swenson.

Although he had full ride offers to play in junior hockey Apache never did.








What This Hockey Adventure is All About

When Apache Jones grew up in Utah he made goal scoring look so easy.

He and the Utah Red Stars used to beat all of the teams – including the ones right here in Las Vegas at all age levels.

But when Apache Jones missed scoring a game-winning goal in a gold medal game his hockey coach R.C. Rock in the locker room took Apache’s hockey stick and broke it in half.

He told Apache to go home.

And home he went, never to play hockey again….

The hockey folks said he and his family went to Las Vegas but no one really knew.


Now, a few years later, the AAA Utah Red Stars coached by R.C. Rock are coming into Las Vegas for Summer Blast 2018.

And when coach Rob and his Vegas team are short on goal scorers he, Anthony Greener, Tommy Ricketts, Dave Francis, Gramps and Kendell Galor go onto a citywide search to track down Apache Jones and ask him to return to the game he loves so much in the biggest summer game ever right here in Las Vegas.

That is, if they can find him.


This story is being written by Lee Samuels and daughter Mary Cate Zurfluh who last winter wrote ‘Just in Time for Christmas the Unstoppable Johnnie Gold’ and  earlier “The Kid Who Never Scored a Goal”  here on Vegashockey.net.

Mary Cate is the author of the children’s book Flash The Cat.

This story will feature

Coach Rob Pallin

Anthony Greener and his grandfather Gramps

Kendell Galor – She will be on Vegas bench as an athletic trainer in her biggest most meaningful game.

Tommy Ricketts – one of the greatest Las Vegas hockey dads of our time

Dave Francis – for years the friendly gatekeeper at the SoBe Arena Pro Shop. His hockey son Chris is one of the all-time goal scorers in Las Vegas.

Adam Stio – referee in the biggest game of his officiating career – Summer Blast 2018

Peppers – Zamboni driver created by hockey dad Jay Zurfluh

Skeeter – A rink cat, very young, who wanders over to the wrong bench on game night – new character created by Jay Zurfluh.

Steve Allen – Las Vegas hockey dad 

Apache Jones and R.C. Rock – Both created by Lee Samuels


This story is dedicated to the memory of Las Vegas roller hockey star Johnny Oakes who passed unexpectedly years ago. He played high level roller with dignity and grace along with Micah Sanford, Patrick Stevenson, Leroy Garcia, Adam Naglich, Billy Tufano and so many hometown roller stars who skated together in the biggest greatest tournaments nationally while playing out of the ‘Little House of Champions’ – Crystal Palace Roller Rink on North Rancho Drive.