The going looked to be smooth for the Rhinos, as the home team had built a 5-0 lead by the seventh minute of the second period. Molina scored the first goal just 1:08 into the game followed by Jeffery Schmudlach at 2:54. Eric LaBounty scored El Paso ’s third goal at 15:10 of the first.
Molina got another on the power play to open scoring in the second period at 4:26, followed by Balko’s first at 6:28, chasing Dallas ’ starting goaltender, Colin Sablotney, back to the bench.
But the party ended there, as the Hawks’ Matt Gillings scored less than two minutes later, at 8:19, followed by Jeff Barberis and Casey Smith on the power play, bringing Dallas within two goals.
However, The Rhinos answered just 49 seconds into the third period with a power play goal from Marcus Wilhite, and although Dallas would score again on Nick D’Agostino’s tip-in at 14:20, they would get no closer as Balko shut the door with his second goal a mere 1:53 later.
Though he yielded four goals, El Paso ’s Arthur Hollinger got the win, his 17th of the season, third most in the Western States Hockey League. Hollinger is fifth in the WSHL behind the Rhinos’ other mainstay between the pipes, Anthony Natali, with a 2.22 goals-against average. Natali maintains a 2.15 GAA.
El Paso picks up its 30th win against just two shootout losses and continues to set the bar in the Mid-West Division. At 30-0-2 with 62 points the Rhinos have not out-and-out lost a game this season thus far, taking at least a point out of each of their 32 games. The Hawks fall to 10-23-2 and remain fifth in the Mid-West.
El Paso and Dallas tangle once more at 5:30 p.m. MST Sunday at theSierra-ProvidenceEventsCenter . Duke Keith and Michael Hissam call the action, viewable via the Rhinos video webcast at www.elpasorhinos.com. Fans can also follow the action with live game tracking provided at www.pointstreak.com. Just key “WSHL” into the hockey searchbar and follow the links.