Coach Chad McLeod’s Tulsa team is certainly improved from last year’s squad, which contended with the Rhinos in the Mid-West Division championship series last March.
But, as they did late last winter, El Paso kept up their physical style of play – a style the Rampage could not match in the final half of the game.
Dustin Meyer gave Tulsa a 1-0 lead on the power play at 9:52 of the first period as the Rhinos were skating through a fog in the early going.
The Rampage held a potent El Paso attack to just six shots in the first 20 minutes, but held the lead just 51 seconds into the second period as Zach Kohn scored an unassisted goal sliding across the slot from left to right and beating Tulsa goaltender Brent Troyan low.
DeLoach ripped a laser from the left circle at 5:58, putting the puck top shelf past Troyan on the power play.
Rhinos head coach Cory Herman had wanted to make his team’s play with the man advantage a point of emphasis, and it seems to be paying off.
After Rampage forward Michael Criscuolo tied the game at 14:34 of the second, Kohn scored the game-winner on the power play at 18:43.
Tyler Benson added the insurance goal 15:46 into the third period as El Paso improves to 10-0-0. The Rhinos keep second place in the Mid-West Division of the Western States Hockey League with 20 points, while Tulsa drops to 12-3-1, leading the division with 25 points.
The two teams play two more games – Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. MDT and Sunday afternoon at 5:30 p.m. MDT. Both games can be seen and heard at the Rhinos’ website, www.elpasorhinos.com through the B2 Networks (www.b2livetv.com).
Call the El Paso Rhinos at 915.479.7825 for ticket information.