The El Paso Rhinos defeated the Ogden Mustangs in the first game of the Conference Finals on the back of a Gavin Abbott goal five minutes into the third period. The goal was Abbott’s first of the playoffs. The Rhinos hung on to take game 1 of the series by a final score of 2-1.
Forward Martin Hanl passed up a shot and made the extra pass to Abbott who was streaking in on goal. Abbott had just two assists so far in the playoffs and found and extra gear following his first goal tally.
The Rhinos and Mustangs put on a display of fast skating and hard hitting throughout the game. Numerous fans and players alike were heard to remark that this is “the way playoff hockey is supposed to be.” The Rhinos used their speed to open the scoring seven minutes in when forward Jonah Pearson tipped in a rebound following a Jordan Cullum slap shot.
Throughout the game Rhino goaltender Adam Vay kept his team in the game with save after save. On the night, the Mustangs outshot the Rhinos 43 to 30. The only goal allowed by Vay was five seconds into an eleventh minute power play in the third period. The Rhinos received a total of 16 minutes in penalties during Friday’s game and survived numerous power plays including one 5-on-3.
After a frantic last few minutes with the Ogden goalie on the bench, the Rhinos were able to celebrate a much needed game 1 win. Gavin Abbott celebrated with the fans after the game as the number one star following a much needed playoff goal.
A fired up Abbott will no doubt be out for more tomorrow night when the Rhinos try to finish off the Mustangs. The game begins at 7:30pm at the Sierra Providence Events Center.