03/08/2008 3:00 AM -
After the Rhinos took a 2-0 lead into the locker room at the first intermission, El Paso seemed to have survived its sluggish start against the only team to have beaten them in the regular season.
Parker Harrison drew first blood for
El Paso had a league-leading 24 short-handed goals in the regular season.
But, returning to the Sierra Providence Events Center for their second straight division final series against the Rhinos, the Rampage were not about to go as quietly as they did last season, losing twice, including a 7-1 pasting in last season’s Game One.
Justin Giles got things started for the visitors on the power play, 4:13 into the second frame – the last Tulsa player to touch a puck that caromed off the end board glass, popped back into the slot over El Paso goaltender Arthur Hollinger’s head, and was deflected into the net.
No big deal for the Rampage – ugly goals count too – and
Properly challenged, the Rhinos answered in the third frame as Wilhite created a rebound, firing a puck kick-saved by standout
Things would stay tangled until overtime, as
But in the end, centerman Nick Gorup won a big draw in the Rampage zone, sending it to Krueger who zipped it to Wilhite behind the defense. Skating down the middle of the slot on
Tulsa will meet the Rhinos again Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. MST for Game Two. If the Rampage win, Game Three will be Sunday at 5:30 p.m. Should El Paso win, it’s on to the Western States Hockey League Championship Final, to be played at the Western Division champion’s home ice, and then on to the big prize – the Silver Cup, Junior A Tier III’s national championship tournament.
In the Western Division championship, the defending league champion Phoenix Polar Bears downed the San Diego Surf, 6-3, to take a 1-0 series lead.
The Rhinos and the Rampage can be viewed with a subscription at www.elpasorhinos.com, and live game tracking is provided at www.pointstreak.com. Just key “WSHL” into the hockey searchbar and follow the links.