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Dal Monte: From the Hub City to Sin City

Former Merritt Centennials and Alberni Valley Bulldogs blueliner Mattias Dal Monte thrived last winter in his first season in Sin City.

The 2000-born defender finished eighth on the University of Nevada – Las Vegas team in scoring with 18 points, including eight goals, in 25 games. The 6-foot-4, 215-pounder from Nanaimo, B.C. was third on the squad in blueline points.

“Mattias is not only a very gifted hockey player, but his hockey IQ is towards the top I’ve seen,” said UNLV head coach Anthony Vignieri-Greener. “How he sees and communicates the game isn’t something you see from guys in our league. I think that he was taught the right way at a very early age, and he soaks it all in.”

The Skatin’ Rebels compete at the American Collegiate Hockey Association Division I level. Last season the team compiled a 24-7-1 regular season record and was 24-3-1 in ACHA play. During the season, UNLV tangled with NCAA Division I teams from the University of Alaska-Anchorage and the 2022 national champion University of Denver. The Skatin’ Rebels were ranked fourth in the country late in the season and competed in the national tournament in Marlborough, Massachusetts, which is in the Boston area.

“As a group, we have had a lot of team success this year and I’ve really enjoyed that aspect of the season,” explained Dal Monte. “Playing the program’s first games against NCAA Division I opponents was really special. Being a part of this team feels like we’re helping build a strong foundation for the future of the program.”

Already a leader for the Skatin’ Rebels

In his first season, Dal Monte quickly established himself as a leader, despite being a rookie. Vignieri-Greener is pleased to have Dal Monte leading on the blue line for the foreseeable future.

“On the ice, he’s very vocal and sets the tone at practice and pushes guys next to him,” the coach said. “He’s a great student with a 3.7 GPA, always willing to help in the community, (and) his leadership is through the roof. (It was his) first year here and everyone in the room listens when he speaks. I’m very excited to have him for another two seasons.”

Dal Monte is excited about his future on ice in the desert and praises the atmosphere of the games.

“We play in a rink that has the seating really close to the ice sheet and our fans are loud so it’s always electric at our home games,” said Dal Monte. “We get some great support from our students too, which is what makes college hockey so special.”

He is majoring in computer science. “A lot of the problem-solving that computer science entails is very unique and I love that challenge,” detailed Dal Monte. “I’m excited to narrow down my academic concentrations and hopefully find a professional opportunity in the field after graduation.”

Looking back at his junior hockey days

Growing up in Nanaimo, Dal Monte cheered the Clippers on. He got his start at the junior A level with the Merritt Centennials, who he suited up for from 2017-19. Following a trade in August 2019, Dal Monte split the 2019-20 campaign between the Swan Valley Stampeders of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League and the BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs.

“My time in the BCHL was really special due to growing up in British Columbia and being a big fan of the league,” he said. “Playing against the Clippers was always special, especially games at Frank Crane (Arena) in front of friends and family. I don’t have enough good things to say about my time in the BCHL, from coaches to trainers to teammates, I made incredible relationships and memories that I’ll carry with me for life.”

Dal Monte wrapped up his junior career in the United States with the Amarillo Bulls of the North American Hockey League in 2020-21. His next step was the NCAA Division III ranks with Utica College. After a season there, Dal Monte opted to head to Las Vegas.

“I had been aware of the UNLV program for a while through mutual friends,” he said. “I played a year of Division III in New York after I finished junior and after my freshman year, I was looking for a fresh start. Academically and athletically, UNLV had a lot of things I was looking for and once I got out on a visit and met the coaching staff and saw their vision for the future of the program, I felt like it was the right place for me.”