By Grace Mello / USPHLPremier.com
Las Vegas Thunderbirds
Seed: Pacific Division #1
Seeding Round Schedule
All games at Utica University Nexus Center, Utica, N.Y.
Day 1: Thursday, March 23, vs. Metro Jets, 4 p.m. EST
Day 2: Friday, March 25, vs. Tampa Bay Juniors, 8 p.m. EST
Remaining schedule determined by results of seeding round
The Pacific Division’s last team standing, the Las Vegas Thunderbirds, are headed to the USPHL Premier National Championship for the first time in program history.
Traveling to Fresno to face the No. 1 seed and division rival, the T-Birds were up for a challenge in the final. Thunderbirds General Manager and Coach Adam Bonaldi shares what emotions were like for the team as the buzzer rang at the end of Game 2 and Las Vegas had secured their bid to the National Championship.
“Just like every team, we went through a lot this year. The raw emotion that was felt, came from everything the team overcame this year,” Bonaldi said.
Las Vegas pulled off two series sweeps in post season play to advance them to the National Championship. This year was the Thunderbirds third consecutive year in the Pacific Division final, as well as the third year facing Fresno in that series.
“The boys truly played a complete team game,” Bonaldi said. “Everyone contributed to sweep two very good teams, but Tristan-Felix Tremblay was absolutely our playoff MVP.”
Joining the Thunderbirds in late January, Tremblay (’04/Bécancour, Que.) who previously played in the QCHL and the QMJHL, became a key player for Las Vegas.
In postseason play, he recorded 10 points. In Game 2 of the division semifinal, he scored three of Las Vegas’ five goals, helping to push them through to the division final. In Game 1 of the final, Tremblay scored four of their five goals including the GWG in a huge win over Fresno.
Advancing to the National Championship is a dream come true for this team. Coach Bonaldi tells us that Las Vegas is on par with many of the teams that are going to be there.
“I am sure it will get tougher and tougher if we can advance, but we truly feel that the Pacific has improved. and we belong with these teams,” Bonaldi added.
The T-Birds will focus on practice and recovery workouts to prepare.
“I believe Cory Ward and Matt Oberling have put real time into reviewing video of our next opponent, and I trust they will make the necessary adjustments. I know we will have to play a little bit tighter of a game,” Bonaldi added.