Article By: Kayla Faasse

UNLV Hockey kicked off the new year with its annual inter-squad scrimmage, seeing Team Scarlet face off against Team Gray in front of loyal fans.

Former Rebel Angelos Tsalafos returned to City National Arena to coach Team Gray, leading them to a 5-3 victory.

“It was good to come back and see the guys. It was nice to give input…” Tsalafos said. “We have a really good team this year. We have a lot of depth. I think everybody is very capable and there’s a lot of skill.”

The two squads played two 25 minute halves, facing off in an intense battle to demonstrate the starting point of the new season.

The first goal of the scrimmage went to newcomer Caleb Strong, who snapped the puck behind goaltender Landon Pavlisin from a Nick Flanders’ pass from around the net.

“It was good to be on Gray, came out victorious- it was pretty weird playing against my teammates, but it was a lot of fun,” Strong said. “It felt good, I was wonky off the back but hopefully I can do it in the regular season.”

Strong’s goal set the pace for Gray as they continued to rip shots at Pavlisin. Next on the board was Rebel prospect Trent Carter, scoring off a pass from Azzaro Tinling.

Tinling is one of the NCAA Division I recruits joining the Skatin’ Rebels this season. He will be transferring from the University of Vermont, where he spent two years playing with his younger brother.

“It was pretty competitive, all the guys were going tonight. It was good to see the caliber here,” Tinling said. “I think we have a really strong group and we’re gonna turn some heads this season.”

As a physical forward, he hopes to bring a lot to the front end of the Rebels and help grow the program in the right direction.

The third goal of the night was awarded to defenseman Alec Johnson, assisted by Jayson DiMizio and Joey Carollo to give Gray a 3-0 lead.

Alec Johnson is coming off last season as the third ranked Rebel for points with 9 goals and 20 assists (29 points).

Team Scarlett picked up the momentum in the final five minutes of the first half, scoring a couple of goals of their own.

Daniel Fisher scored the first one, with a clean shot against Gray goaltender Vince Benedetto, assisted by Max Johnson and Riley Jensen.

The scrimmage was Fisher’s first time back on the ice in a competitive atmosphere after his season-ending injury back in October of 2021. He suffered a grade three full hamstring tear during a practice, undergoing a new reconstructive surgery that was met with quick recovery.

He returned to the practice squad shortly before the Rebels left for Nationals, but was not cleared for games before the conclusion of the season.

“It was great to play with the boys. Honestly, that was the most competitive, fastest inter-squad game I’ve played in my four years here,” Fisher said. “Everyone was dialed in. It was a great atmosphere.”

Less than a minute later, Cole Wyatt fired one past Benedetto, assisted by Bradley Golant to bring the score within one.

Cole Wyatt returns to the Rebels as the second ranked forward on the team with six goals and 25 assists (31 points).

Not only is he looking to return to the ice this year with the same energy, but he will be doing so with his younger brother, Jaxsen Wyatt on defense. The duo will be an interesting pair to keep an eye out for as the season progresses.

Both teams continued to fight for a victorious night in the second half with possession of the puck constantly changing.

It was not until 7:47 left in the half that Max Johnson snuck in a goal. Bradley Golant and newcomer Robert McCollum put up assists for the goal, tying the game at 3.

McCollum is the second NCAA Division I transfer the Rebels are gaining this season. He comes from Long Island University where he spent two years.

“It was fun and really cool to see all the fans there. We have a competitive group, so I think that is a recipe for something great,” McCollum said. “Everyone did a great job tonight of cycling it low- [Gray’s] forwards were moving the puck well, their D were moving it up ice and I thought Gray did a nice job tonight.”

Max Johnson returns after being the lead scorer for UNLV last year with 20 goals and 13 assists (33 points).

A little over a minute later, DiMizio regained the lead for Gray with a clean goal assisted by recruit Dylan Ford.

Ford joined the Rebels to start his college career, while also taking the opportunity to play in the United States for the first time being from BC, CAN. He is coming off two seasons with the Hearst Lumberjacks, where he spent last year as a captain.

As a defenseman, Ford made 12 goals and 35 assists for 47 points, and he hopes to keep the same momentum going in the Scarlet and Gray.

With 37 seconds left on the clock, newcomer Mattias Dal Monte scored a solo goal on an empty net from behind the blue line to finish off the night.

Dal Monte is a transfer recruit from Utica College (NCAA Division III), where he played 14 games last year. He enters the season as a 6’4 defenseman looking to provide extra coverage on the backend of the ice.

By the end of the night, Gray had taken 40 shots on goal while Scarlet took 27 shots.

To conclude the event, every player took a shot during a shootout drill, with multiple players showing off their trick shots.

Pavlisin returned to net for Scarlet, only allowing DiMizio to sneak the puck past him out of the 15 shots he was faced with.

Fisher, Cole Wyatt, Luke Burke, and Hunter Muzzillo all managed to get their pucks past the Benedetto.

Former team captain Jared Erickson made an appearance at the scrimmage to cheer on the Rebels as he scoped out all the new faces on the ice.

“Obviously, I wish I could be out there, but at the same time we have a great squad to begin with,” Erickson said. “It’s cool to see the squad grow every year. The team is getting better and the talent is getting better.”

With the new season rapidly approaching, the Rebels demonstrated their winning determination on the ice.

Rebel Hockey will be hosting its opening night in Las Vegas on Oct. 7 at the Dollar Loan Center with a 7 p.m. puck drop against Utah. Tickets can be purchased using the following link:

https://www.axs.com/events/445647/unlv-vs-utah-tickets