The Skatin’ Rebels kicked off the season with a series sweep against the Grand Canyon University Skating Lopes. The Rebels closed out the 2022-23 season with a series sweep against the Lopes.
The first starting lineup of the season consisted of forwards Tristan Rand, Bradley Golant, Cole Wyatt, defensemen Mattias Dal Monte and Hunter Muzzillo, and netminder Zach Wickson. The Lopes started forwards Braden Husby, Benjamin Oakland, Hunter Schmitz, defensemen Gabriel Tritschler and Gavin Uckele, and fellow netminder Riley Morgan.
The Lopes kicked off the season with a goal by forward Booker Chacalias 1:30 into the first period.
However, forward and Las Vegas native Heath Mensch scored on a power play, keeping the Rebels alive, with assists from Rob McCollum and Rand.
GCU Dylan Dent was sent to the box, but that did not stop the Lopes. Uckele scored with assists from Ethan Peterson and Jacob Cummings, leading the game 2-1 shortly after the penalty was killed.
Dal Monte ended the period with a penalty for roughing. The teams entered the second period with the Lopes leading 2-1.
Heath Mensch kicked off the second period with another power play goal, tying the game 2-2. The Lopes bounced back right away with a goal by Husby. Max Johnson tied the game up once again with a goal, but was shortly sent to the penalty box. GCU took advantage of the power play with a goal from Oakland. The Lopes took back control, ending the second period with a 4-3 lead.
In the third period the Rebels began its comeback with a goal from Golant 3:55 into the period, with assistance from Michael Boutoussov. The third period was filled with penalties, with three from the Rebels and one from the Lopes. Both teams were unable to score on special teams and the game went into overtime.
Dal Monte sealed the game with an overtime goal earning himself a spot within the three stars of the night with the game winning goal, putting the Rebels up 1-0 in the season.
The 5-4 overtime win sparked a flame within the Skatin’ Rebels, preparing them for game two. Dal Monte, Mensch, and Wickson were named the three stars of the night.
The Rebels dominated the Lopes in an 11-0 win. Vinny Benedetto, Jake Berry, and Mason Kelly were named the three stars of the night in the blowout match.
Benedetto earned his second ACHA career shutout. His previous shutout wascame against Oklahoma, where the Rebels beat the Sooners 4-0.
“I felt great the whole game,” Benedetto said. “The boys played awesome in front of me and made it really easy for me to see pucks. It was an overall great team effort.”
This was the first ACHA series for the newcomers on the team, including Rand and Mason Kelly who both scored their first career goals as Rebels.
“We played down to their level last night,” Kelly said. “And I feel as a team we talked about playing with our swagger.”
The Rebels started forwards Michael Boutoussov, Nick Flanders, Luke Burke, defensemen Jake Berry and Joey Carollo, and goaltender Vinny Benedetto. They faced off against the Lopes’ previous lineup.
Despite Flanders drawing the first penalty minutes of the game, Carollo got the Rebels on the board with a short-handed goal. Berry made it 2-0 with another goal on his own 11:25 into the game.
15 minutes into the period, Robert McCollum got ejected for a hit to the head on a GCU player, leading to a fight on the ice. After the scuffle, Flanders made it 3-0 to close out the first period.
The Rebels ignited a flame within the second period, starting with a goal from Golant.
Following Golant, Max Johnson, Rand and Berry extended the Rebels lead to 7-0 at the end of the second period.
The offensive domination continued throughout the third period. The period started out with a 4-on-4 penalty kill, with Flanders in the box. Kelly scored his first goal as a Rebel, leading the Lopes 8-0. Heath Mensch returned to the series, making it 9-0. Johnson welcomed the Rebels to double digits, taking charge with a 10-0 lead. Kelly closed out the game with a goal defeating the Lopes 11-0.
The Skatin’ Rebels take on the Arizona State Sun Devils on Oct. 5 at 9 p.m. and Oct. 6 at 3 p.m. at the Mountain America Community Iceplex in Tempe, AZ.