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#15 Arizona Takes On #5 University of Nevada, Las Vegas - 1/13 & 1/14/2023

We started off the second semester with a series of rather brutal losses against the UNLV Rebels. Arizona came off of a win and a loss against ASU in the beginning of December, and UNLV beat San Diego State 16-0, Canisius 13-1, and University of Oregon 4-1. Heading into Tucson Arena on January 13th, both teams were likely confident with their end-of-the-year victories. That quickly changed for the Wildcats.

Less than four minutes into the first period, the Rebels’ Nicolas Flanders scored the first goal of the game, proving why they are one of the best teams in the division. The rest of the period continued to build on the tension in the air. After a few penalties for both Arizona and Las Vegas, UNLV’s Brendan Manning scored their second goal of the night with 6:19 remaining in the period.

The second period was significantly angrier, both on and off the ice. As the players continued to rack up penalties and spend more time discussing calls with the referees than actually playing, the crowd grew restless and louder in expressing their outrage. UNLV’s Mattias Dal Monte incurred a double minor for tackling the Wildcats’ Brody Selman with 15:36 remaining in the period. Then, with 11:23 remaining, Arizona’s Dylan Walker was removed from the ice for a brawl with Flanders.

Just when it seemed the Wildcats’ luck couldn’t get any worse, the puck ricocheted off of Ryan Fischer’s skate, scoring an own goal, and concluding the second period with UNLV leading 3-0. The third period was significantly less eventful than the second. The rebels scored their fourth goal of the game around halfway through the period and then scored their final goal with 1:44 remaining in the game.

On the second night of the series against UNLV, Arizona skated into the ice ready for a fight. Both teams held penalties and power plays, eventually scoring one goal each in the last five minutes of the first period. The Wildcats played more aggressively, ending the period with 17 shots on goal, while the Rebels had only attempted 7. The second period followed a similar structure. Arizona scored another goal with 18:44 left, there were a few UNLV penalties, and then the Rebels scored a goal with 5:35 remaining.

The Wildcats seemed to lose their steam in the third period, though. Las Vegas’ first goal of the period bounced off of Arizona’s goalkeeper— Nolan Bivolcic’s— leg. The final UNLV goal was scored with 52 seconds remaining in the game, after Bivolcic strayed a little too far from the crease. The next ten seconds were tense, leading to a fight near the Rebels’ goal, and resulting in Arizona’s Matthew Marquis being ejected with 42 seconds remaining in the game.

Overall, both teams played well over the weekend. Arizona players seemed to be a bit out-of-sync, which cost them a series of goals, and Las Vegas played well, maintaining an offensive position throughout both nights. This series left Arizona ranked at #16 and UNLV at #4 in the ACHA Men’s Division 1.

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