By Bethany Drysdale
Las Vegas – #23 ranked UNLV upset #3 Minot State in a Sunday afternoon game at City National. Playing on the Star Nursery Rink, UNLV fans packed into watch the Rebels win a hard fought victory against the defending ACHA Division 1 National Champs with a final score of 6-3. Highlighting the game was a hat trick from John Moeller and excellent goaltending by starter Dorian Laganiere Lebranche and closer David Anderson. The win marks 2 in a row for the Rebels and brings them to 13-11-1 on the season.
Scoring first for UNLV was John Moeller on a powerplay, getting assists from Kane Toriumi and Eric Williams. After 8 minutes of play, the Rebels were out shooting the Beavers 10-2. The relentless Rebels pounded shots on the Minot goaltender, with Jared Turcotte getting the second goal, midway through the first period. Pax Malone and Hunter Muzzillo assisted Turcotte.
Jake Saxe added the third goal of the period at the close of the first period. Shots on goal favored UNLV 19-10 at the end of one.
Keeping the number 3 team in the nation scoreless is no easy task, but Minot State came back in the second period to score their 1st goal of the game with 14 minutes to go. After a series of penalties, including a game misconduct by UNLV goaltender Lebranche, the Rebels were down 2 men. The penalty kill was working well for the Rebels, despite the 5 on 3 advantage. Another penalty put the Rebels right back on the penalty kill for 2 more minutes, and this time Minot would not be denied their 2nd goal of the game, and Minot sill had a powerplay going for them.
The second period was physical for both teams, as the intensity of the game went on. Minot State committed a double minor with less than 5 minutes to go in the 2nd period. Just as time was running out for the double minor, Jared Erickson scored the Rebel’s 4th goal. Sean Plonski ended the period with a penalty. Minot capitalized on the late penalty, making the score 4-3.
The 3rd period was all Rebels. John Moeller put through his 2nd goal of the game with help from Nick Flanders and Daniel Fisher. It was clear the Rebels were frustrating the Beavers. The Beavers took some undisciplined penalties and played down a man, but it was with 2 minutes left in the game, they pulled their goaltender for the extra attacker. This effort proved useful for the Rebels as John Moeller scored an empty net goal, with an assist from Jake Saxe, to seal the 6-3 victory for UNLV. Defense and not turning the puck over in the Beaver zone were keys to the Rebel win.
After a rough few games in December and early January, the Rebels have gotten back to their winning ways, just in time to make the push into the final games before going to Frisco, TX in March. Next up for the Rebels are 2 road games in Salt Lake City, UT on January 24-25.