Utah Men’s Hockey Swept by UNLV in Home Series


Kevin Cody

Sophomore forward Che Landikusic is positioned in front of the opposing goalie’s net in a first period scoring chance against The University of Nevada Las Vegas in Salt Lake City on Nov. 13, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Cody | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Chase Mullin, Assistant Sports Editor


While essentially every team in the WCHL can be considered rivals with the University of Utah men’s hockey team, the UNLV Rebels are arguably one of, if not the biggest rivals of the Skatin’ Utes. Going into the matchup, Utah was ranked No. 21 in the ACHA, and faced No. 8 UNLV in a two-game series on home ice this weekend.

The last time these two teams faced off, the Utes dropped both matches of a two-game series in Las Vegas earlier this season, including a hard-fought 4-3 overtime loss. Although UNLV came into this weekend with an impressive 7-3 record, the Utes knew that they could compete with the Rebels and they did just that on Friday night’s opener.

Game 1

The Rebels came out strong on Friday, netting two goals in the opening period and outshooting the Utes 11-6 after 20 minutes. The narrative would change in the second period, however, as strong second periods on home ice for the Utes have seemingly become a trend. The Utes would tie the game on goals from forwards McKay Pond and Landon Langenbrunner, outshooting the Rebels 13-11 in the second frame.

The third period was, simply put, an eventful one. Utah forward Benjamin Mickel would net a goal seven minutes into the period, giving the Utes a 3-2 lead. Roughly a minute later, and after a save from Utah goaltender Landon Anderson, a scrum would ensue in front of the net. Out of frustration, Anderson pulled the helmet off of a UNLV forward, resulting in a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct.

Anderson would leave the game having stopped 25 of 27 shots, and was replaced with goaltender Adam Rousello. With just over three and a half minutes remaining in regulation, UNLV would net a shorthanded goal to send the game to overtime.

Although 3-on-3 sudden-death overtime in hockey is arguably one of the most entertaining spectacles to watch in sports, it is essentially a toss-up between the two teams due to the amount of open ice and back-and-forth action. UNLV would win the game a little over two minutes into the extra frame to top the Utes by a final score of 4-3. It was a tough loss for the Utes, but they still earned a point in the standings for making it to overtime.

Game 2

Utah came into Saturday’s game looking to secure three of four points possible in this series with a win. The Rebels would strike first on Saturday in the opening period, and once again the Utes would come out strong to open up the second with a goal from Langenbrunner, his second of the series. 

Utah would control the possession for the majority of the period, yet they were unable to strike again. After a period of sustained pressure from the Utes, UNLV’s Jason Dimizio would carry the puck into the Utes zone and score on what was admittedly a very nice deke and backhanded shot from the Rebel forward. 

Dimizio’s goal would constitute a change in momentum for the remainder of the period, as the Rebels would tally again on an odd-man rush with four minutes remaining before the intermission, giving UNLV a 3-1 lead heading into the third. Utah would outshoot UNLV 18-8 during the period.

The last period was rather even for the first ten minutes, and although the Utes were still in the game despite being down by two, UNLV essentially sealed their victory with a goal midway through the third. The Rebels would put the final nail in the Utes’ coffin with another goal with two minutes remaining, sealing a 5-1 UNLV victory.

The Utes have played well against some of the top teams in the WCHL this season. Like they have done all season, the Utes outshot their opponents tonight 5-1 but were unable to muster more than one goal.

“Their goaltenders played really well but I think tonight, and all season really, our finishing hasn’t always been there and I think it’s a confidence thing. We’re outshooting a lot of these really good teams but we’re not finishing and I think that comes from confidence and playing the full 60 minutes” said forward Wyatt Light, the Utes’ leading points scorer this season.

Despite the score, there were some positive takeaways from tonight’s game for the Utes.

This weekend series now puts the Utes in a tough spot, as they must win the remainder of their games in order to qualify for nationals in March. Overall Utah has had a relatively solid season, but they have lost a handful of close games that seemingly just did not fall their way, such as the two overtime losses they’ve had to UNLV and an overtime loss they had to Arizona a few weeks back.

“Moving forward if we want to make it to nationals I think we need to lean on our strengths such that’s using our speed, we’re a fast team, and keeping up the offensive zone pressure, I thought our forecheck was really good tonight, we were in their zone for long stretches of time, we just have to finish,” said assistant captain Steven Pawlow.

It was a tough weekend for the Skatin’ Utes, but there were still a handful of positive takeaways from the series. The Utes now have their work cut out for them as they travel to Phoenix next weekend for a two-game series against a tough Grand Canyon University team.


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