Friday, February 8, 2019
By Bethany Drysdale
Las Vegas – In front of a packed crowd, the #10 UNLV Rebels hosted the #6 Wildcats of Arizona. Alumni weekend for UNLV brought the noise and atmosphere to raise the adrenaline. At home this season, the Rebels are 10-1, with their only loss happening 2 weeks ago versus Colorado. Looking to bounce back from that one loss, and beat a higher ranked team is a tall task for any team. Erik Eidissen got the start tonight, with Ryan Coughlin as backup goaltender. Thirty seconds from puck drop, Arizona scored with a backhanded shot from the high slot. Wearing the red and white, Arizona was looking like the Red Wings of the late 1990s, as they scored two more times at the 14 minute mark. Going down 3 goals, UNLV took a timeout to settle down and regroup. It was a wise move, as shortly after UNLV went on a 5 on 3 man advantage power play, scoring their 1st goal of the game. Kameron Fink to D’Andre John from the point, after winning the faceoff, put the puck in the back of the net. Bas Assaf tried to make it a 2nd goal with a pass to Joe Kaszupski, who also assisted on the first goal, but the puck was swallowed up by Arizona goalie, Anthony Ciurro. A penalty by UNLV, with 2:27 left in the first, gave the Wildcats an opportunity to score their 4th goal going into the intermission. At the end of 1, shots on goal favored UNLV with 10, and Arizona 7, but the score was a solid 4 to 1, Arizona advantage.
The Rebels entered the 2nd period strong and fast. Working to make up the goal difference in a short time, the Rebels had several power play opportunities to score, but could not solve the mystery of goaltender Anthony Ciurro. With 13:40 left in the 2nd, Arizona scored their 5th goal of the game with a backhand in front of Eidissen. Textbook saves and great reflexes kept the Rebels from scoring, until Bryce Woodward got the 2nd goal through with an assist from Jordan Rea. Jordan Rea set up a nice stretch pass to Woodward, hitting Woodard in stride, scoring on the connection. Eidissen, who also got an assist on the goal, made excellent saves throughout the second period, but not much going in on the offensive side of the puck, despite some nice opportunities. At the end of two, the shots on goal still favored the Rebels at 22 to 12 Arizona shots.
Down three goals to begin the third, the Rebels were in unfamiliar territory. Digging deep, the lines worked to get more pucks on the net and to keep out of the penalty box. Both teams penalty kill units were looking strong throughout the third. Arizona was content to keep the clock moving, staying calm and more disciplined than their previous game versus the Rebels.
UNLV would not go quietly on the cold desert night. A wrist shot by Zach Schlitt with 1:18 left in the game, assisted by Paxton Malone, brought the score to 5 to 3. Jared Turcotte scored a solid shot with 52 seconds left to go, assisted by Bryce Woodward. Bringing the crowd to their feet as the score climbed to 5-4, momentum for UNLV came just short of a win.
Both teams will be back on City National ice for puck drop at 2:30 on Saturday. Come out to see the Rebels rebound against the Wildcats.
Bethany Drysdale of Las Vegas was voted by our readers as ‘Best Writer on Vegas Hockey’