Stunner – WSHL Las Vegas Thunderbirds Deal Star Players Emil Svartbro, Tomas Urbanec, Christoffer Juvas, Filip Nordin



On Thursday news broke of a multi-team, multi-player trade involving Tomas UrbanecEmil SvartbroChristoffer Juvas, and Filip Nordin of the Las Vegas Thunderbirds.

Extensive details of the trade can be found here. In short, All-Time Leading WSHL Goal Scorer Tomas Urbanec and Vegas’ second top scoring Defenceman Filip Nordin were sent to the El Paso Rhinos in exchange for Mikhail Gerasin and Austin Kerridge, plus cash considerations. Juvas and Svartbro were sent to the Ogden Mustangs in exchange for Gleb Shlyaiger, plus cash considerations.

Las Vegas Thunderbirds President and former member of the Chicago Blackhawks John Marks had the following statement today, regarding the trade“Our goals as a WSHL franchise are to win a Thorne Cup, and to give all of our players an opportunity to advance their hockey careers. We firmly believe that this trade is in the best interests of the players involved and the Thunderbirds organization. We are committed to the continuing development of our roster of players, and look forward to what the future has in store here in Las Vegas.”

The Thunderbirds received three young, talented players who will have a chance to develop and re-sign with the organization, a key factor for an expansion team headed towards a playoff birth in its inaugural season.

Coach Dave Hyrsky commented on the trade today, noting“As an organization, we felt that we were in a position to move some of our top assets, in order to build for the future of the Thunderbirds. In return, we received three young players who we hope will be with us for years to come. Competing with the top clubs in the WSHL remains our goal, and we look forward to earning a playoff birth in our first season as a hockey club. We believe this deal was in the best interests of the future of our organization, and would like to thank Tomas, Filip, Christoffer, and Emil for their time and dedication to the Thunderbirds.

Dexter Kichline of Henderson NV and AAA LA Jr Kings 2005 Team Listed as a Top Prospect

Special to Vegas Hockey
Dexter Kichline, an 05 player from Henderson, NV and skating for the AAA LA Jr Kings team 2005, has been listed by tophockeyprospectsusa to their 05 USA All Pro roster.
The Scouting News also named Dexter as one of the best defenders available for the 05 WHL Bantam draft
Dexter grew up playing in Las Vegas skating for the Storm and the Jr Wranglers through the pee wee level.

Las Vegas Goalie Luke Fundator Featured in Hometown Sheridan Press Newspaper in Wyoming

By Joel Moline — The Sheridan Press | NA3HL Sheridan Hawks goalie Luke Fundator (1) of Las Vegas stops the puck from going into the net against Butte on Saturday night.


SHERIDAN — Members of the Sheridan Hawks NA3HL hockey team joined the junior league for the enjoyment of the game and to attract the attention of the college coaches or scouts from the North American Hockey League.

Players show what they are made of during their shift on the ice each game, giving them multiple opportunities to gain the attention of scouts.

Hawks goalies stand in the crease for a full 60 minutes, working to stop the puck from going into the net.

Goalies do not play in every game, making each chance on the ice an important opportunity to perform. Luke Fundator has been capitalizing on every chance he receives when he stands between the posts for the Hawks.

Fundator is a native of Las Vegas, Nevada and played for multiple teams under Arizona Bobcats organization, playing in the North American Prospects League. He played the past two seasons in Arizona 18U, 16U and 15U teams.

He made the move to junior hockey in the NA3HL after attending camps during the summer, Fundator said. He spoke with coaches from the NAHL, who told him they are looking for players with experience in junior hockey.

The 17 year old needing a place to play took the opportunity head coach Andy Scheib provided and found a spot on the Hawks roster, making the move to Sheridan. Fundator said he has enjoyed how friendly and welcoming the Sheridan community has been to him and the team. He is attending classes online and a senior in high school. Fundator has not been the Hawks’ main goalie this season, playing in 10 games while other goalies James Downie and Zach Hearn have played in 19 and 13 games, respectively. Fundator is the youngest goalie of the three and is looking to use every opportunity he has to gain exposure needed to play at the next level.

“At the end of the day, I just need to play my game and play hard,” Fundator said. “Come out hopefully with a win and some good stats.”

With the limited number of chances, he was made the best of his opportunities. The team won all nine in which he started.

Fundator helped the Hawks defeat the Great Falls Americans on Nov. 22-23. At the time, Great Falls was ahead of the Hawks in the standings. The Hawks are currently one point ahead of the Americans in the standings and are tied in the top spot in the Frontier Division with the Bozeman Ice Dogs.

In the two games against Great Falls, Fundator blocked 43-45 shots in the first game and 49-53 shots in the second game. On the season, he has a save rate of 91.3% and has the lowest goals allowed rate on the team for the season at 2.44 goals per game.

Fundator has received more ice time in the recent weeks, playing in five of the last seven games and starting the past three games for the Hawks, each resulting in victory.

Scheib said Fundator worked his way into the reserve goalie position as the year has progressed. Downie and Fundator will be the two goalies Scheib will rely on moving forward.

Fundator played back-to-back nights against the Butte Cobras, helping the team to an 8-2 victory each night. He said he was grateful for the opportunity he received and enjoys every minute of playing time on the ice.

Game situations allow Fundator to showcase his talent, but this season he has been working on developing his game during practices. Fundator has continually worked on improving his mindset and engaging with the game. As a goalie, having a high level of focus helps with his performance.

Scheib said since day one Fundator has been motivated and focused on reaching for his goals. Playing against older players have helped him progress along with doing the little things off the ice that are needed to succeed.

With this being his first season in junior hockey, the practices have helped Fundator adjust to the level of play. He is challenged during practices. The Hawks have the third most goals scored in the league this season, giving Fundator a chance to practice against some of the top scorers in the league.

“It can be challenging, I can tell you that,” Fundator said. “Their shots really do help and at the end of the day I am happy they are on my team.”

If Fundator does not move up to a higher level, he is a player Scheib hopes to have back next season.

The Hawks return to the ice to play a home-and-home series with the Gillette Wild. The Hawks travel to Gillette Jan. 17 and host Jan. 18 at 7:30 p.m.










AAA/AA/High School








Fuzzy Atchison Scores 27th, 28th Goals for AAA Arizona Bobcats 13u in 4-2 Win over AAA Phoenix Jr Coyotes

Special to Vegas Hockey

Fuzzy Atchison of Las Vegas scored his 27th, 28th goals of the season, Chayse Laurie of Las Vegas dealt the assists to set up those goals and Las Vegas goalie Logan Perez stopped 26 of 28 shots as the AAA Arizona Bobcats 13u beat their rival AAA Phoenix Jr Coyotes team 2006 by 4-2. Fuzzy’s 28 goals are the most by any Las Vegas goal scorer away from home this season. The Bobcats are now gearing up for a Tier 1 Showcase this coming weekend in Scottsdale.

When Harris Whissel Gets Onto the Ice for the AA Vegas Jr Golden Knights 16u He is a Miracle – a Miracle on Ice

By Lee Samuels
Las Vegas – When Harris Whissel of the AA Vegas Jr Golden Knights 16u gears up in the locker room and heads to be with his team on the ice he is a Miracle – a Miracle on Ice. When he and a friend climbed up a mountain ‘just for fun’ a few years ago they got up ok but then tumbled and fell. It took a fire and rescue crew using a heat imaging device to locate him.
“God decided right then his job on earth was not completed,” said his hockey mom Nancy Whissel.
Harris Whissel skates on the third line at left wing, with hard-skating sharpshooter Kenneth Curtis lll at center and a hard worker Chason McCrossan on right wing on a team coached by Wally Lacroix who are the defending National Champions.
Lacroix and assistant Todd Owen are premiere coaches in a city which is packed with great coaches in youth hockey. 
Lacroix calls Harris ‘Big Red”
“Big Red is definitely a great role player on our team. He has brought into the role of the 3rd line player at his best a huge asset to our team.  There are tough conversations to have with young athletes and their families understanding how you fit into a hockey team helping to insure future success in this game we all love,” Lacroix said.
By Hockey Mom Nancy Whissel
Harris started learn to skate at 5 years old when his father, Paul, drove by Las Vegas Ice Center and thought that it would be good for him to take lessons so that his Grandma, my mom, who was sick with cancer could come out and watch him.  Paul thought since his grandma was a professional ice skater in her youth, that going to watch Harris would be fun for her.  After about 9 months, Harris grandma had passed away and Harris was bored in the learn to skate program.  Paul decided to sign Harris up for hockey even though I was less than thrilled with the decision.  I was a competitive figure skater growing up and had a disdain for hockey players for reasons like the spit on the ice, destroy the ice with the deep ruts they dig in the ice, they fight and they get their teeth knocked out.  
After completing hockey 123, Harris enjoyed house league and was an average player .  When Harris was at the squirt level, Tom Lackas invited him to play on a tournament team.  The competition sparked a little fire in Harris and he started to play at little harder.  John Brooks then approached Paul about putting together a Pee Wee B team the following year and managing the team.  Paul got his coaching credentials and took on the challenge. It was a struggle to find enough players so the team consisted of 5 girls, 2 boys who had skated less than a year, one goalie, 1 squirt player and 6 other mediocre players including Harris.  The head coach unexpectedly moved to California in the first couple of months, and thankfully Nick Robone took on the team.  They were 16-1 for the season and then Paul entered the team in a verified Pee Wee B tournament where the team placed 2nd out of 8 teams.  It was a fun year that instilled the travel hockey bug in the family.
The next year Harris was on the Pee Wee A team coached by Jeff Bruckner and Paul and Harris worked hard to increase his skills.  He thrived on the competition and really became committed to playing hockey to the best of his ability.  He took lessons with Jeff and hit all the stick and puck sessions he could.  Jeff taught the players the basics of body contact to prepare them for the Bantam year to come and Harris enjoyed that aspect of the game.
Harris’ first year at the Bantam level was on the Bantam A team coached by Adam and Evan Zucker.  Harris had begun taking lessons from Vassili and was quickly becoming a faster more stable skater.  Checking was heavily pushed by the coaches and Harris was very good at it.  He hit hard and part way through the season had accumulated ten 2 and 10 penalties.  I was not happy watching Harris sitting in the penalty box for a third of the game for so many games.  One morning before an out of town game, I had a discussion with him letting him know that if it happened again, I would pull him off the bench.  I sat next to the coaches at lunch that day and let them know I had that conversation with Harris.  They quickly informed me that they were both coaches and that Harris’ hits were hard but not illegal and that the referees were only calling the penalties because the hits were so hard.  They proceeded to tell me that they wished the rest of the team would play like him.  I apologized to Harris and decided that going forward I would no longer interfere with Harris’ play.  
Harris worked super hard with Vassili and the following year, Harris made it on to Wally LaCroix’s team.  He learned so much from Wally that year.  He was a volatile player that year, he lacked confidence and Wally once said that in some games Harris was the player on the ice and other games he couldn’t find that player.  Harris struggled to be a consistent player.  Over the summer, Harris began working with Brian Salcido to develop his hockey skills.
The next season, Harris did not make Wally’s team,  So he was on the Varsity High School team.  Wally talked to us after tryouts and said that the Zuckers were good coaches and that Harris was actually on the better team.  Harris liked his teammates and was happy that he was on a talented team.  However, the team struggled and was far from disciplined on the ice.  The beginning of the season was disappointing.  And I was fearful that Harris would get hurt playing on that team.  Little did I know what was in store for him that New Years Eve.
December 31, 2018 at 15 years old, Harris started the day playing 2 games with the adults, Vegas Valley Hockey and Ronnie’s.  I picked him up after he was done playing and drove him to Blue Diamond to spend the day with his best buddy.  He held my hand as I drove all the way to Blue Diamond, he has always been very affectionate and compassionate.  The plan was that I would pick him up after he celebrated New Years Eve after 12:30 am.  Harris is a very good kid and so is his buddy, they didn’t get in to trouble or do things that were detrimental to their health so I was very comfortable knowing that he in Blue Diamond for the night.
Harris and his buddy, Alex, decided to hike to the top of the mountain behind Alex’s house to watch the fireworks at midnight.  They packed some snacks in their backpacks and headed out.  It was 22 degrees out and the boys were not dressed appropriately which is not uncommon for 14 and 15 year old boys.  They got to the top and decided it was too cold to watch the fireworks.  They decided to try to meet me on the road when I came to pick Harris up.  On their way down, they realized they were in trouble as the terrain was too steep.  They decided to go back up the mountain and when they turned to go back Harris fell 110 feet.  At 11:45 pm, Alex called 911 and told dispatch that Harris had fallen.  He said he could hear him crying but could not see him.  Metro Search and Rescue helicopter was dispatched to rescue Harris.  Alex told them that he was going to climb down to help Harris.  Of course he was told to stay where he was, but he started to climb down anyway.  He climbed part way down and he fell as well.  Dispatch had the open line with Alex’s phone but he was no longer talking to them.  They did not know why.
Thankfully, being that it was New Year’s Eve, Search and Rescue was on call and already at the hangar.  They were in the air in 20 minutes.  Precious time was ticking away, however it would have been an hour for the helicopter to get airborne had the team not been ready at the hangar.  At 12:40 am, when I was driving to Blue Diamond, I watched the helicopter scanning the mountain looking for Harris.  Since Alex had fallen as well, there was no way for the rescue team to know where the boys were.  Fortunately, once a year the railroad police come out to the old tracks near Fossil Mountain and that day was New Years Eve.  They were able to pick up a slight heat image on Harris and give the location to the helicopter.
At approximately 12:45 they spotted Harris, and were fairly certain they were on a recovery rather than a rescue at that point.  Harris had fallen so far they did not think he could have survived.  it was a windy night and the ledge Harris had fallen to was appoximately 9 feet wide.  John Thayer, was the officer in the helicopter, along with 2 pilots.  Because the ledge was so narrow the helicopter could not land.  Officer Thayer had to jump from the helicopter to the ledge to get to Harris.  By chance the large helicopter was in Henderson so they were in the small helicopter.  Had they been in the larger, he would not have been able to get close enough to jump to the ledge.  The officer believed that Harris had not survived and was spooked when Harris popped up.  He started to evaluate him and  then heard someone say, “I am over here”.  Not knowing that Alex had fallen, Officer Thayer didn;t know what was going on.  Alex was behind a boulder 15 feet from Harris.  Both boys were telling Thayer to take care of the other.  Because of Harris’ condition and the fact that he was close to the edge of the ledge and starting to roll over, he went over to attempt to stablilize Harris.  
Fortunately, there was a volunteer member of the Red Rock Search and Rescue volunteer, Mike Ward, lives in Blue Diamond and neighbors had alerted him of the incident and he had suited up to help if needed.  The helicopter left Thayer with the boys and flew over the fop of the mountain to land in the baseball field in Blue Diamond where flight for life was waiting.   Mike hopped into the helicopter and also jumped out on to the ledge to assist Thayer with the boys.  The helicopter leave once more to pick up some additional equipment to rescue Harris.  Eventually, Harris was put into an orange sleeping bag, put in a litter and loaded in to the little helicopter.  The Search and Rescue helicopter landed in the park, Harris was offloaded.  According to the rescue team, they did not expect Harris to be alive at that point, but when they unzipped the bag, Harris’ eyes were open and he was conscious.  They were surprised.  
He was loaded on the flight for life helicopter, which was coincidentally, piloted by a fellow player from Vegas Valley Hockey.  Vegas is such a small town.  One of the Search and Rescue pilots also plays on the Vegas Valley Hockey league, though Harris had never played with him.  Harris was transported to UMC Trauma.  Where his luck continued, there was only one other patient in trauma that night in addition to Harris and Alex who arrived later by ambulance.  
The doctor was not confident that Harris would survive through the night.  He was severely hypothermic and was bleeding internally.   His known injuries at that point were:   lacerated liver, lacerated kidney, lacerated adrenal gland, punctured lung which collapsed, both lungs bruised, bleed in his brain, fractured pelvis, lacerated heel and 2 broken toes .  It was later determined that his heart was bruised as well.  All the injuries were a result of the incredible force at which Harris sustained when he landed on the ledge, there were no punctures to his skin.  In all, he was given 8 units of blood due to the internal bleeding.  He had several bruises and abrasions but otherwise from the outside he was in half way decent shape.  The medical team struggled to get him stable. but were successful by late morning, which was January 1, 2019.  
I had to make several phone calls New Year’s Day to inform people of Harris’ accident.  I let his current team manager know of Harris’ condition.  I knew that rumors would start to travel through the hockey world as people began to find out that Harris was injured, so I called Vassili and Coach Wally as well so they would have first hand information.  Vassili and his wife came to visit the next day which was  heartwarming.  And a statement from Wally that, “There is no one stronger than Red” was comforting, inspirational and so true.
Harris was moved up to the Peadiatric ICU (PICU) that morning.  He was hooked up to over a dozen medications in his IV and pic line, on a ventilator and had a chest tube.  The nurses and medical staff in that unit are absolutely amazing.  The care Harris received was outstanding and no doubt was a big contributing factor to his recovery.  They watched him almost every minute for the first 4 days.  The estimate for his stay in the hospital was initially months.  But on the 2nd of January, Harris had over 40 visitors.  Most from hockey teammates both from his current team at the time and many from teams he had played on in the past.  Harris though heavily sedated and on a ventilator, acknowledged everyone with a thumbs up or some sort of hand signal.  I kept thinking that he should just rest but he brightened up with every visitor that walked in the room so I figured it was beneficial to him and the nurses were okay with the steady stream of traffic.  The compassion that was displayed by those boys was touching.  On the ice, they are rough and tough, but when one of theirs is in trouble, they are the kindest, most compassionate, sensitive humans imaginable.  
Harris was able to communicate by spelling things out on a tablet that I would hold up for him.  And his first question……………Am I gonna miss the game this weekend.  He was on a ventilator, couldn’t talk but was appalled that he could not play that weekend.
Visitors continued to stream in on the 3rd as well.  Those young men and their families definitely contributed to Harris’ speedy recovery, and we are grateful to all of our Las Vegas hockey family for their support.  The one hurdle that Harris had any control over was getting off the ventilator.  He worked hard to breathe after suctioning so that his oxygen saturation level would remain high enough to warrant removal of the vent.  He concentrated and worked to take deep breaths.  He was determined to get off that vent and get a drink of water.
On January 4th, Harris began to get strong, astonishing the nurses and doctors.  They were also impressed that no matter how uncomfortable a procedure was, he always gave them a thumbs up.  His attitude was positive.  He soon became a favorite in the PICU and had yet to speak a word. The ventilator was removed on the 4th and on the 5th Harris spoke to the head nurse about his estimated discharge.  By then they were estimating 2 weeks, but Harris told her that he was going to get out sooner.  She told him that she hated to disappoint him but he would definitely be there at least 2 weeks.  But the next 2 days were very positive and his stats were all getting back to normal.  His next hurdle to getting out was to walk and get up and down stairs.  In 2 short days, Harris worked on his ambulatory skills with deep determination.  He was walking and walked up and down a half a flight of stairs.  So, on the 7th of January, Harris was astonishingly discharged.  I am not going to lie, I was a little nervous bringing him home especially since we live 45 minutes away from the hospital, but it was so good to sleep at home and Harris felt so much more comfortable back in his own house.  
He had lost 30 lbs in that week in the hospital and lost most of his strength.  Everyday he healed a little bit and soon was back on his feet.  I still find it hard to believe that he only had three doctor appointments post discharge.  The pediatrician checked him out a couple of weeks out and cleared him on his side.  At 5 weeks, Harris was out on his plastic ice shooting pucks for hours.   There were 2 visits to the orthopedic surgeon who cleared Harris to get back on the ice in 8 weeks and cleared full contact at 12 weeks.  Though the pelvis had healed,  he said Harris would not be 100% strength wise for 2 years.  Harris missed the rest of the Hockey Season with the High School team, but quickly went back to play on Ronnie’s and Vegas Valley Hockey.  He also worked with Brian Salcido again on a weekly basis.
Harris tried out for the 16 U AA Memorial Day tournament in April 2019.  He made the team and played without issue as far as his physical condition.  In June, he tried out for the 16 U AA 2019-2020 team.  He was devastated that he did not make the team.  It was more impactful to Harris than his fall.  I have never seen Harris that sad in his life.  But he picked himself up and went on that evening to tryout for the High School team.  He made the varsity team.  It was not his ideal choice, but at least he would still get to play.  He shifted his attitude and decided he would strive to be the best player on the HS team.  
Harris made an appointment to speak with Wally a week after tryouts and Wally was very honest with him.  He told him that he could 100% be on the team but that Wally needed to know that Harris would play the way Wally needed him to play.  He gave him some off ice exercises to work on and told Harris to work on his hockey skills over the summer. 
Harris spent hours everyday with his stick and golf ball, out on his shooting pad, on the frontage road with his roller blades and on the ice.  He would tell us all the time that he was going to be on Wally’s team.  In July, he texted Wally that he was either going to be on his team by the end of the summer or Wally was going to wish he was on his team.  One week after that text, Wally offered Harris a spot on the 4th line.  He was very clear that Harris would have to work his way on to the 3rd line if he wanted to play.  Harris has developed not only his hockey skills, but has also developed as a young man as a result of Wally’s mentorship. 
He learned that you are not owed anything by anybody and that you have to work hard for the things you want.  

For The Love of Hockey – UNLV Rebels Upsets Minot State – By Bethany Drysdale

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.

Brenden Fehlig Deals Important Late-Game Assist

Sunday, January 20, 2020

Lacrosse, Wisconsin – Brenden Fehlig, a top Las Vegas performer with 15 goals, 15 assists for 30 points this season, dealt a late game assist to help the NA3HL Coulee Region Chill lock down a 3-0 win over the St. Louis Jr Blues here at the Green Island Ice Arena on a very cold wind-blown snowy Sunday.

Brenden began the season with the NA3HL Texas RoadRunners, then was moved here to the Chill.

Saturday, January 19, 2020

Pensacola, Fla. – Derek Sutliffe of Las Vegas scored his 13th goal of the season during regulation play for the SPHL Evansville Thunderbolts who won 2-1 in OT over the Pensacola Ice Flyers here at the Bay Center Arena. The crowd was really a good one —  3379.