June 22, 2016

Las Vegas Hockey History

The National Hockey League may have made pro sports history by becoming the first major league pro sports organization to come to Las Vegas, but hockey does have a history in Nevada.
▶ 1968: The Las Vegas Gamblers, a senior amateur team, plays in the California-Nevada Hockey League until 1971. 
▶ 1971: From the ashes of the Gamblers came the semipro Las Vegas Outlaws. For the next two seasons they played as an independent team without a formal league. 
▶ 1991: Fast forward to the modern era when Wayne Gretzky arrived in Sin City. The Los Angeles Kings defeated the New York Rangers 5-2 in an NHL preseason game played on an outdoor rink at Caesars Palace. 13,007 hockey fans watch Gretzky score in the third period. The slushy ice survived the 85-degree evening. 
▶ 1993: The Las Vegas Thunder join the International Hockey League as an expansion franchise. The team, featuring a lot of former NHL players, played at the Thomas and Mack Center and were initially quite popular.

At the same time the Las Vegas Aces play the first of two semi-pro seasons in the Pacific Southwest Hockey League.

And the Las Vegas Flash play the 1993-94 season in Roller Hockey International.
▶ 1997: The Los Angeles Kings defeat the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 in overtime in Frozen Fury I, an NHL exhibition series that continues today. Frozen Fury was at the MGM Grand Garden through 2015. Two games will be played at the T-Mobile Arena in 2016.
▶ 1997: The Nevada Gamblers/Blackjacks join the Western States Hockey League for junior clubs. The team folded in 1999.
▶ 1998: The Las Vegas Coyotes participate in the 1998-99 season of Roller Hockey International.
▶ 2001: The Nevada Rattlers participate in the Western States Hockey League until 2003
▶ 2003: The Las Vegas Wranglers join the ECHL and ultimately outlast the IHL Thunder. The Wranglers, known for the zaniest of promotions, played out of the Orleans Arena at the Orleans Hotel off the famous "Strip." The team lasted until 2014. .
▶ 2011: Jason Zucker became the first NHL player ever from Las Vegas. Zucker was actually born Newport Beach, California but his family moved to Las Vegas when he was two months old. He spent his youth in Nevada before leaving to Michigan as a teenager to better develop his game.

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