The UNLV Skating Rebels rebounded from a COVID-canceled campaign last year to post its best-ever season, finishing 26-4-1 and reaching the Final Four of the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s (ACHA) 2022 National Tournament in St. Louis this March.
After the pandemic disrupted play last season, head coach Anthony Vignieri-Greener thought he had set some tough preseason goals for the men’s hockey club, which is now in its 17th year.
“At the beginning of the year, we thought we could make some noise and make the ACHA tournament and challenge some nationally respected programs,” the coach said.
But the Skating Rebels, it turns out, had loftier ambitions.
After a slow start to the season, the team peeled off 16 wins in a row, a club record. The winning streak included capturing the Chicago Classic Tournament Championship in November against three ACHA ranked teams.
“To win three games on the road against three great competitors, that really put us on the map. It might be cliche, but this is the closest locker room I’ve seen in my time with the program,” said Vignieri-Greener, who played left wing for UNLV from 2006 to 2010.
The team's camaraderie translated to momentum at the ACHA tournament, where wins over Liberty University and the University of Pittsburgh led the Rebels to their first-ever berth in the Final Four.
While the team’s season ended in the tournament’s semifinal, Vignieri-Greener credits its success to the dedication of his players.
“(Assistant) Coach Nick Robone and I have been here for about seven years now and we’ve worked hard to build a student-athlete culture that includes more than working hard on the ice. It includes working hard in the classroom and in the community.”
Vignieri-Greener won’t let his team rest on a strong 2021-22 campaign. He’s already challenging the program by scheduling games against tougher opponents next season, including matchups with three NCAA Division 1 schools.
“We have full buy-in from the team and our fanbase is growing,” the coach said. “Our student-athletes are being embraced by the UNLV community on campus and we’re seeing more faculty and staff showing up to our home games at City National Arena.”
The 2022-23 season starts this fall for the Skating Rebels, which plays its home games at City National Arena in Summerlin. UNLV competes in Division 1 of the American Collegiate Hockey Association, which consists of nearly 400 non-varsity collegiate club teams nationwide over three divisions.
Learn more at RebelHockey.com.