Flashback Story – Feb. 11, 2002

By Lee Samuels

San Jose, Ca. – We’ve got a first banner to hang.

A big one.

It says in bold letters Southwest League Champions.

Coach Rob Pallin’s AA Las Vegas Mustangs 18u won the big one on Sunday, defeating a powerful AA San Jose Jr Sharks team 4-2 to capture the Southwest League gold medal.

Three days, seven teams, with the Mustangs getting the championship.

When it was time to present the gleaming silver Southwest Cup, Pallin told his four senior skaters to head to center ice.

Justin Grossman, Sean Darby, Steve Novotny and Paul Lowden, members of a 4-31 Mustangs team two seasons ago, skated slowly towards the Cup which is presented to the Southwest League Champions.

“They skated for our Mustangs in the hard times,” Pallin said. “I know how much this means to each of them.”

Justin Grossman’s father Neal said ‘honestly we hope this season never ends.”

There was more good news. Mustangs goalie Cody Fulwiler, who is having a career best season, was named the Southwest League’s Goalie of the Year.

The 46-9-3 AA Las Vegas Mustangs have won four team golds this season – but this, by far, is the biggest one.


This Mustangs team ultimately won the Pacific Division gold and was the first Vegas team to play in the U.S. Nationals. The Red Line of Josh Jasek, Adam Naglich and Eddie Samuels scored a team-record 154 goals that season. Goalies Paul Lowden and Cody Fulwiler collectively had a record 15 shutouts.