Under the Hood: Las Vegas Thunderbirds
From now until the season starts, we will be taking a quick look under the hood of each team. From players leaving, to new signings, we will preview each team based on what coaches and players have to say.
Las Vegas Thunderbirds
2019-2020 Inaugural Season
Newly minted Las Vegas Thunderbirds will be entering their inaugural season in the WSHL. Placed in the Western Division, the Thunderbirds have been active for quite a while as far as scouting talent and signing players.
“We got a full team right now,” Head Coach Dave Hyrsky said. “That was one of our priorities to make sure we had enough bodies, but, obviously we had to make sure they could also play. We have been recruiting since last December basically.”
The Thunderbird’s formula to heavy recruiting has been to seek mainly captains and assistant captains to ensure character kids in the lineup—It was priority. Vegas held a training camp in Wisconsin but started their main camp yesterday in Vegas.
The T-Birds have taken notice of Wisconsin native and Defenseman Jeremiah DeValk who captained his high school hockey team, Fox Cities Stars, and captained his former Lacrosse team.
(Photo of Jeremiah DeValk via lvtbirdshockey.com)
"He's a big physical player who moves the puck well, and has a bomb of a shot,” Coach Hyrsky said. “Jeremiah [DeValk] will play in all situations for us."
DeValk will take point in many battles for the Thunderbirds and his versatility will be a true asset to the team.
Mitchell Trzebiatowski, another Wisconsin native, comes to the Thunderbirds as a highly touted forward. Trzebiatowski was a four-year varsity player who scored relentlessly. In his final two years of high school hockey, he registered 61-points in 44-games (38G-23A.) Overall, he has more than 100-points in 97 games with Waupaca High School.
“Mitch is a player with great speed and hockey sense,” Coach Hyrsky said. “He is a top six forward for us and will play a leadership role. He is an all around athlete with a great personality.”
Coach Hyrsky spoke highly of Owen Webster, who hasn’t been officially announced by the team. Webster comes from the CCHL 2’s Athens Aeros. The 6’1”, 200-pound forward had 12G-21A-33Pts. in 41-games. Webster is a very disciplined, productive player, who only has eight PIMs in the last two seasons—A testament to the aspect of integrity that Hyrsky is watching out for.
“He’s one kid that we are expecting big things out of,” Coach Hyrsky said.
It’s safe to say the Thunderbirds have added several standouts. The list continues, though it doesn’t end, with forward Javin Billings. Billings also played four years of high school hockey, in Pueblo, for Pueblo County High. He was slightly better than a point-per-game in his last two seasons with the Pueblo High Hornets. Last year he managed 20G-17A-37Pts. in 20-games.
Bombers turned Thunderbirds?
(Photo of Anthony Rodriguez taken by Mark Mauno, WSHL Photographer)
Obviously the Thunderbirds don’t have any returners but they do have a returner of the league that Coach Hyrsky named as a crucial piece to the puzzle. Former Long Beach Bomber and Henderson local, Anthony Rodriguez is expected to be with the team.
Rodriguez put up 8G-9A-17Pts. with the Bombers including the game winner on Feb. 17 that dealt the Ogden Mustangs their first home loss of the season.
Not only Rodriguez, but, Joseph Wheeler and Filip Nordin are due to report to the Thunderbirds. Nordin was Long Beach’s second leading scorer among defenders with 4G-31A-35Pts. The trio of former Bomber’s should fit in nicely.
Wheeler generated 17-points for the Bombers. Of the three, he would be considered the most experienced with points registered for multiple WSHL teams including the Arizona Hawks and Valencia Flyers.
Having Thorne Cup experience under their belts is definitely something Las Vegas can use.
(Photo of Rhett Bruckner taken by Mark Mauno, WSHL Photographer)
Coach Hyrsky was hesitant to name a No. 1 goalie this early but did mention how pleased he is with the goaltending facet. He has been impressed by two goalies named to the squad in Rhett Bruckner and Blade Taylor.
Bruckner played for the Las Vegas Storm in 2016-2017. Having said that, he demonstrated how capable he is to shoulder the load of a team the following season—with the Phoenix Knights—capping off a 20-win campaign. He did suffer an injury that kept him from playing, however. Bruckner has recovered very well from the injury and is showing a lot of promise.
"Rhett’s lower body injury slowed him for a year but through surgery and rehab he has worked like a horse to get himself back in shape and ready to play," Coach Hyrsky said. "I noticed his eagerness to prove himself and watched him skate a few times and really liked his work ethic.”
“Rhett brings us experience in goal. He's someone who has played at the Junior level in our league and has had some success."
Although it was not confirmed by Coach Hyrsky, Bruckner could be a potential No. 1 considering the Oct. 2003 born, Taylor, hasn’t the experience Bruckner carries in the league.
The Las Vegas native, Taylor, has been described as fully capable to start but more has to be seen from both to determine a concrete answer. Taylor most recently played for the Kent Selects U16 and the Potomac Patriots U16 AAA.
The Thunderbirds and Coach Hyrsky affirmed that they will be a quick, puck possession team. A team identity has yet to be molded but pace will surely be an active element.
More news and details to be released by teams as the 2019-2020 season approaches. Stay up to date with the latest and complete Las Vegas Thunderbirds news by going to https://www.lvtbirdshockey.com/home.