Shocker – WSHL Las Vegas Thunderbirds Take Apart Fresno Monsters


By Lee Samuels

Las Vegas – It was like the middle of the game and Las Vegas Thunderbirds goalie Rhett Bruckner was in his net watching his forwards pin down the Fresno Monsters down at the other of the end of the rink. Rhett was ecstatic. He used the blade of his goalie stick and moved ice shavings away from the net area. “This is unreal – how great we are,” he thought to himself at the SoBe Ice Arena over on North Rancho Drive on Friday night.

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And, in a staggeringly great performance the first-year WSHL Las Vegas Thunderbirds in their very first game ever took apart the Fresno Monsters 5-1 before a large, loud and grateful crowd on Opening Night.

For Bruckner, who battled and pushed himself to play in this game – he had been out of hockey for long stretches due to injuries – this was his Ultimate Glory.

And T-Birds GM/Head coach Dave Hrysky who orchestrated this awesome performance said simply “it was a good win to start the season. We’ve been together putting all of the pieces together with our players for about three weeks. We tried to keep game plans fairly simple to start off the season.”

The Thunderbirds had a tremendously great attack blueprint while moving quickly and effectively towards the Fresno net.  Fresno had a number of ultra skilled forwards but could not stop the Thunderbirds who also had some rugged defensemen to back them up when needed. Interestingly the Thunderbirds forwards had ultra speed and correct spacing among themselves while making powerful drives towards the Fresno net.

It was magical watching this happen.

However, the great coach Hrysky noted “…we have another game with Fresno here Saturday night and soon we will be facing the big teams like Ogden and El Paso. Then we will see where we are really at.”

Speedy Vegas forward Emil Swartbro scored three times. He is from Estonia, which borders the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Finland. He is a blue-streak force.

Hometown player JJ Williamson, who has been scoring goals since he was a mite, hammered in a goal. And Gabriel Testa, who played for the Fresno Monsters two seasons ago, had a great skate as well.

But the night belonged to Bruckner in the Vegas net.  Beset with serious hip injuries in previous seasons he drove himself to get into the right kind of needed physical condition to play for the Thunderbirds.

“This is what I want to do, get into the net, play hockey. It drives me,” he said quietly after the game.

The great thing too is that this is only Game One of the season for the TBirds.

From the Blue Line – It was a quiet game for referee Todd Owen – an outstanding official here in Las Vegas. Chris Crowley, a roller hockey star goal scorer years ago, was one of the linesmen.