In any defensive battle, the offense that takes advantage of a break can win a game. The Idaho Steelheads took advantage of a power play to score the game-winning goal, beating the El Paso Rhinos, 2-0, at the WSHL Showcase in Las Vegas, NV.
The Steelheads added an empty-net goal as El Paso pressed to equalize at the Western States Hockey League’s annual jamboree, created to expose the league’s talent to college scouts who come from across the country for three full days of hockey.
But the damage had been done before the empty-netter, as the WSHL West Division’s second place team gave the Rhinos their first slip in the third of four games for both teams in Las Vegas.
Though Showcase games are only 50 minutes long, shortened to two 25-minute periods to get in as much hockey as possible, El Paso was only able to manage 18 shots to Idaho’s 15. In some games this season, 18 shots has been a good period for the Rhinos.
In a hard-hitting game against an opponent hungry to knock of the league’s top team, 18 shots was simply not good enough.
Victor Karlsson put through the unassisted power play goal at 16:34, beating El Paso goaltender Andrew Duff, who has only allowed one goal in each of his two games.
However, the Rhinos offense could not help their backstop out in this game, as Steelheads goalie Spenser Brown got the shutout.
With Duff off the ice, Idaho’s Greg Chapman scored the empty-netter with
37 seconds left.
El Paso suffers it’s fourth loss of the season, falling into 32-4-0.
Idaho improves to 21-2-3 and 45 points. The Steelheads are 16 points behind the Fresno Monsters, but have eight games in hand on their West Division rivals.
The Rhinos face longtime rival Phoenix Sunday morning at 11:35 p.m. MST in the final Showcase game for both schools. The Polar Bears have met El Paso in the Thorne Cup Finals in each of the Rhinos first three seasons.
Phoenix took the cup away from the Rhinos last March.
For more information, contact the El Paso Rhinos front office at 915/479.PUCK (7825) or go to www.elpasorhinos.com.