By Kayla Faasse
Building off a program-best, the Skatin’ Rebels continued to make program history during the 2022-23 season.
To kick off the new year, UNLV signed 10 players to its 32-man roster with four forwards, five defensemen, and one goaltender. The group of newcomers would pay off as a great investment for the Rebels as Wisconsin-Superior transfer Landon Palvlisin shifted into the starting goalie role.
Right off the bat, the Rebels made history by playing the program’s first game of the new year against the University of Denver, the defending national champions for NCAA Division I hockey.
The Oct. 1 matchup saw multiple penalties on both sides and goalie appearances from Zach Wickson in the first two periods and Vince Benedetto in the third. Ultimately, the Rebels fell 10-0 to the Pioneers.
Next up, the Rebels faced off against Central Oklahoma for a rematch after the Bronchos ended UNLV’s season at Nationals the previous year. The Scarlet and Gray did not hold back, defeating the Bronchos 5-2 with freshman Jaxsen Wyatt scoring his first goal.
The following weekend featured the ACHA home opener in UNLV’s Home means Henderson weekend. The Rebels faced off against Utah at The Dollar Loan Center the first night, opening in front of over a thousand screaming fans to overcome the Utes 3-2.
In game two, Pavlisin made his Scarlet and Gray debut making 22 saves (.917 sv%) and helping the team to a 6-2 victory at Lifeguard Arena.
UNLV then traveled north to the University of Alaska-Anchorage for an NCAA Division I series in the middle of October. The Seawolves earned an 8-0 shutout in the first game, as Wickson started in net and Pavlisin relieved him in the second period.
The second night, Pavlisin started between the pipes for 31 saves out of the 33 shots faced (.939 sv%). Fifth-year Jayson DiMizio scored the first goal of the night, assisted by Cole Wyatt, to put the Rebels up 1-0.
UNLV fell 2-1 to Anchorage that night, proving to have the ability to hold its own against a higher-level opponent.
Returning to ACHA play, the Rebels went on to sweep ASU and Colorado-Boulder to remain undefeated in the regular season.
The Scarlet and Gray then hosted Anchorage in Las Vegas at The Dollar Loan Center. The hard-fought contest saw a 3-1 victory for the Seawolves, as Pavlisin maintained a high save percentage of .938 to finish off the Division I matchups.
Two nights later, Liberty traveled to the desert seeking revenge for the losses last season. The Flames got exactly that, sweeping the Rebels for their first losses of the year.
Moving forward with a 7-2 record, UNLV saw a game against Grand Canyon in Arizona, as a flooding arena prevented a second game in the series. The Rebels defeated the Lopes 5-2 before returning to Las Vegas early.
To close out the first semester, UNLV hosted the Vegas Showcase, welcoming San Diego State, Canisius College, and Oregon. The Rebels outscored all three opponents 33-2.
Wickson earned his first shutout against San Diego State. Throughout the weekend, both Alec Johnson and Brenden Fehlig earned a hat trick.
The second semester featured sweeps of Arizona and Liberty on the road and an 11-0 scoring series against Oklahoma at City National Arena (CNA).
Pavlisin earned a shutout against Arizona and Oklahoma, while Benedetto earned his first shutout against Oklahoma.
The Scarlet and Gray swept Arizona at home and split the road series against Utah and ASU. In the continuation of the postponed GCU game two, the Rebels conquered the Lopes 6-1.
A roaring CNA cheered on its Skatin’ Rebels for the last home series against Grand Canyon. The first night saw an 11-0 victory, followed by a 4-2 win on senior night.
The Scarlet and Gray said farewell to three forward seniors: Jayson DiMizio, Brendan Manning, and Paxton Malone.
UNLV concluded the year with an overall winning record of 24-7-1 and an ACHA 24-3-1 record. The Rebels faced off in 32 games of action for 153 goals and 77 goals against. The team recorded three games with 10+ goals scored with five shutouts.
Cole Wyatt finished in the top-scoring position with 14 goals and 24 assists for 38 points in 28 games.
Alec Johnson finished third overall for points on the team, as the top defenceman tallying 12 goals and 17 assists in 27 games.
On the back end, Pavlisin appeared in 16 games for a 15-1 record. He allowed a total of 27 goals against (1.68 GAA) and made 483 saves with three shutouts and a shootout victory.
UNLV entered the National Tournament as the No. 4 ranked seed for the second year in a row, earning a bye on the first day.
The first matchup was against Grand Valley State (No. 13). The Rebels saw a single goal from Jaxsen Wyatt and two from Caleb Strong to push into overtime tied at 3.
Five minutes in, Long Island transfer Robert McCollum secured the victory, sinking in a shot from the blue line.
Two days later, a matchup against Liberty sent the Rebels home early from Boston. UNLV fell 3-1 to the Flames.
The Skatin’ Rebels will continue to make history in their journey to a national title and the fight to become an NCAA Division I program.