Flashback 17 Seasons Ago – March 11, 2002

By Lee Samuels

Las Vegas – “I now how much these games means to them….they want to go to The Nationals as much as anyone.”

That was what hockey coach Rob Pallin of the AA Las Vegas Mustangs 18u was saying the other night, sitting high in the cold bleachers watching his team power skate up and down the ice.

Pallin was talking about his veteran skaters, Justin Grossman and Sean Darby, who along with Mike Sullivan, make up the Gold Line. Las Vegas bench coaches call it the checking line and usually send it over the wall when the game gets furnace hot.

Size and power. The Gold Line will get plenty of ice time when the Mustangs take on the Seattle Sno-Kings, Portland Jr Hawks and the Long Beach Ice Dogs at the twin-sheet Ice Stations Arena on March 14-17 (2002) in Valencia, California.

Eight teams will start in this regional tournament – only one team will move on to the Tier 11 National Tournament in April.

Grossman and Darby were on the 4-31 Las Vegas Mustangs last year. 

Pallin said “when you get into intense playoff action it’s usually the older players who come through for you. That is what happened when we skated in bantams, midgets and juniors back in Minnesota. I just know Grossman and Darby will give it everything they have when we get to the regionals.”


This was the very first Las Vegas team which won gold in the Pacific Regionals and advance to the U.S. Nationals. The team played out of the Santa Fe Stations Ice Arena on North Rancho Drive here in town.

Justin Grossman is a referee/linesmen here in Las Vegas. We always meet and chat with him at the boards when we see him at a game. Sean Darby passed a few years ago – a devastating loss to his family and to all of his teammates who were united together as one for such a magical season in 2001-02. Mike Sullivan is the older brother of Joe Sullivan who is currently teammates with Cory Ward with the ECHL Manchester Monarchs this season. Rob Pallin is head coach of HC TWK Innsbruck in Austria. He has put together and coached winning teams on every level of the game.