Malcolm Richards equalized on a partially deflected shot that dove under Hollinger’s glove at 9:49 and it stayed 1-1 through the rest of the first period.
In the second and third periods, El Paso outscored the Diablos, 6-3, as the Rhinos Marcus Wilhite both opened and closed the scoring, first giving El Paso a lead they would not relinquish with an unassisted goal at 3:43.
Austin Balko added a goal at 7:19 on a perfectly-placed pass from Zach Kohn. A two-on-one break after a San Antonio turnover gave Kohn the puck on right wing. Kohn sent his pass left, straight to the tape of the left-handed Balko’s stick, and the wrist shot beat a helpless Ryan Larrabee to the near post.
The Diablos’ Dylan Otto got one back for the visitors on the power play at 10:14, but Wilhite made it 4-2 on a Rhinos’ power play just 32 seconds from time, one-timing the feed from Nick Gorup and Sean Molina from the middle of the slot.
Wilhite is now tied for ninth in the Western States Hockey League with 38 points (18g, 20a), while Zach Kohn is tied for 15th (12g, 23a, 35 points).
Michael Walsh brought San Antonio back within one yet again just 1:15 into the third period, as the Diablos proved they weren’t going down without a fight. Eric LaBounty answered just over a minute later, but Dylan Otto found Kevin Kenyon a mere 23 seconds after that, beating the El Paso defense back down the ice for a two-on-none that Hollinger had no chance to solve.
But the Rhinos’ special teams weren’t done, as Bill Krueger scored a power play goal at 17:11 to give El Paso some breathing room, and Hayden Kowalski rounded out the scoring at 18:17.
Going 2-for-5 on the man advantage gives the Rhinos the number two power play in the league, as El Paso converts 22.9 percent of their opportunities. In holding San Antonio 1-for-6 on the power play, El Paso has the second-best penalty kill in the league. Along withPhoenix , the Rhinos are the only other team in the WSHL over 90 percent (91.1) on the PK.
Arthur Hollinger has the fourth-best goals-against average in the league at 2.15 and his 13 wins ties him for second most behind Tulsa ’s Mike Davis who gets the vast majority of starts for the Rampage.
El Paso will face the Mid-West’s fifth place team in the Dallas Hawks (6-17-1, 13 points) next Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Face-off is 7:30 p.m. MST Friday and Saturday and 5:30 p.m. Sunday in theSierraProvidenceEventsCenter . Tickets are available at the El Paso County Coliseum box office during the week and at theEventsCenter on game nights.
For more information, call the Rhinos at 915.479.PUCK (7825) or visit www.elpasorhinos.com.
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