Nickolau, Tbirds shut out Fresno to remain unbeaten
Four games into their first season not much could have gone better for the Las Vegas Thunderbirds (4-0-0-0) who sit alone atop the WSHL Western Division. A number of franchise "firsts" have happened including the first shutout on October 12 against the Fresno Monsters.
18-year old goaltender Michael Nickolau secured his name in the team record book on Saturday to help Las Vegas sweep a two-game series with Fresno, the only opponent the team has played so far. Owen Webster provided all the offense the team needed scoring the first of two goals at 6:53 of the opening period. Anthony Rodriguez and Emil Svartbro would add goals of their own before first intermission to make it 3-0.
Tomas Urbanec netted his third of the season in the final frame. He now has 133 career regular season goals - just two shy of the all-time scorers Matus Spodniak (Ogden) and Vitali Mikhailov (Oklahoma City). Spodniak is currently in his second season at NCAA Division I American International while Mikhailov just began his first season at Central Oklahoma (ACHA Division 1).
The previous night Fresno gave their best effort of the season, but it proved to be not enough as the Thunderbirds came out on top 4-3. If not for the efforts of Monsters goaltender Rodrigo Sacristan, who made 48 saves, the game could have had a much different outcome. Las Vegas out shot Fresno 52-18 in the game.
Webster scored a pair in this game - including the game winner - while also adding an assist to lead all scorers. Rodriguez and Svartbro scored while Darion Conaway, Filip Nordin, Bradley Stewart and Urbanec picked up assists.
Head coach Dave Hyrsky has liked was he's seen so far, but admits there is room to improve. "We are obviously happy about waking up Monday morning in first place, but there is still so much work to do on the small parts of the game. We are making mistakes that will cost us in the long run if we don't get everyone on the same page when it comes to some of these things."
Las Vegas will play their first games away from SoBe Ice Arena this Saturday traveling to Anaheim to face the Ontario Avalanche. Game time is scheduled for 7:45 PM.
"I've seen a lot of positives as well. As far as the shutout goes he stopped pucks he is expected to stop, but wasn't tested heavily," added Hyrsky. "Looking forward to getting on the road."