Typically goalie Ryan Buttazzoni is on the bench watching Adam Vay make save after save. On Friday night against the Tulsa Jr. Oilers it was Vay’s turn to watch Buttazzoni play.
The division leading El Paso Rhinos won the first of three games against the Oilers by a score of 6-0. Buttazzoni gave Vay a night off but it may have felt more like a night off for the team’s usual back-up — the Oilers managed only 11 shots on the night and Buttazzoni put up his second shutout in only six starts this season.
Both teams came out firing and registered their most shots on goal during the first period – El Paso with 23 and Tulsa with six – neither team was able to score, however. The Rhinos would end the game with a total of 58 shots on goal. In only his fourth game with the Rhinos, forward Jonah Pearson opened the scoring in the second period with a goal at the 7:39 mark. Pearson’s goal would be the only tally of the second period.
In the third period defenseman David Brancik recorded his 10th goal of the season with an assist from the team’s leading scorer, forward Jiri Pestuka – four minutes later Pestuka would notch his 27th goal of the season. Not to be left out, forward Sebastian Borg would notch an assist on forward Martin Hanl’s goal at 11:50 — Borg would then score a goal of his own at 14:35.
Defenseman Patrick Stancl rounded out the scoring with the Rhinos 6th goal at forty-eight seconds left to play. As the game came to a close, El Paso forward Marek Langhammer and Tulsa defenseman Aaron Bessey both received roughing penalties for an altercation with only seconds left to play.
El Paso and Tulsa – and potentially Langhammer and Bessey – will renew their battle tomorrow evening in Tulsa. The puck drops at 5:00pm Mountain Time.
– Jason Green