Brandon Unser and Chace Jackson each scored twice and the Dallas Ice Jets became only the second team this season to come to El Paso and take a three-game series from the Rhinos, winning Saturday, 6-3.
Dallas forward Dan Hudson opened the scoring just 2:15 into the game, followed by Unser\’s first at 12:11.
El Paso got one back, as Matt Tritsch scored with just six seconds left in the period to give the hosts some hope going into first intermission.
But all the momentum was lost 1:05 into the second frame as Jackson scored his first goal of the season to give the visitors a 3-1 lead.
Jackson\’s goal was the first of three unanswered for the Ice Jets, and gave Dallas a 5-1 lead before the Rhinos could answer.
Unser scored at 5:37, followed by Johnny Henson at 8:07, chasing El Paso goaltender Vince DiCarlo from the net.
Tritsch scored again at 10:42 to stop the bleeding, but only temporarily. Jackson beat the Rhinos\’ defense at 16:57, racing away for his second goal to put the nail in El Paso\’s coffin.
Brandon Luke scored his first goal in a Rhinos\’ uniform — the only goal of the third period — at 16:39.
Dallas (26-12-4, 56 points) is neck-and-neck with the Texas Brahmas (25-16-1, 51 points) for second place in the Mid-West Conference and home-ice advantage in the first round of the Thorne Cup playoffs.
El Paso (34-9-2, 70 points) has already wrapped up their sixth consecutive regular season Mid-West Conference championship, earning the Rhinos home ice advantage throughout the Thorne Cup Playoffs.
But a second-straight loss has to leave the hosts with more questions than answers going into the playoffs. Only the Idaho Junior Steelheads have come to El Paso and won two out of three games this season, and no team has swept the Rhinos at home or on the road…yet.
El Paso takes on the Ice Jets once more Sunday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. MST. For tickets and information, contact the Rhinos\’ front office at 915/479.PUCK (7825), or go to www.elpasorhinos.com.