From Las Vegas Sun
By Danny Webster
UNLV hockey opens its season at 7 p.m. tonight at The Dollar Loan Center against Utah, marking the first time the program has played at the 6,000-seat arena that hosts the Henderson Silver Knights.
“To be able to play a game there is special for our guys,” UNLV assistant coach Nick Robone said. “To be able to get out there, playing one of our bigger rivals in Utah, it should be a fun night.”
The two-game series will shift to Lifeguard Arena, the Silver Knights’ practice facility, on Saturday.
It’s been a long, productive grind for the program over the last seven years. What started as a roller hockey team has evolved into an ice hockey club that’s become one of the top Division I programs in the American Collegiate Hockey Association.
The work put in by Robone and head coach Anthony Vignieri Greener since 2015 has led to UNLV getting this heightened exposure. The Rebels were promoted to Division I after just three years in Division II, and last season saw UNLV finish 26-4-1, No. 6 in Division I and No. 12 overall in the country.
The Rebels made it to the ACHA Final Four last season and had a 2-1 lead entering the third period, but lost 4-2 to Central Oklahoma.
“Anything short of a championship this season would be underserving the talent we have in the room and quite frankly, underserving this community,” said defenseman Hunter Muzzillo. “This city, these people, our fans, they’re all ready and we know we have the pieces in the room to get it done.”
UNLV enters the opener after a 10-0 defeat against the University of Denver — the defending NCAA champions — in an exhibition game. The Rebels gave up five goals on the power play.
“It was a learning experience,” Muzzillo said. “We learned you can’t stay in the box against a team like that because they will make you pay.”
UNLV won’t play many games where they’re outshot 52-18 like it was against Denver. But the Rebels have full confidence in the likes of goalie Zach Wickson, Muzzillo and forward Paxton Malone to lead the charge, Robone said.
“I think we’re a better team this year,” Robone said. “It’ll be interesting to see what we can do come March. The depth is there. The leadership is there. All the pieces are there. It’s just a matter of executing at this point.”
(Originally published at https://lasvegassun.com/news/2022/oct/07/unlv-hockeys-championship-quest-begins-at-dollar-l/)