Tyler Ridgedell scored the game-winner at 6:54 of the third period and the El Paso Rhinos put a little distance between themselves and the Texas Brahmas for second place, beating the Brahmas, 2-1, Monday night.
After Sunday morning’s 9-5 goal-fest, Monday night’s game was a different animal, fought between two teams playing with urgency, each intent on not yielding ground to the other.
Goaltenders Trent Casper for El Paso and Texas’ Anton Olsson each had their brilliant moments in a defensive game, but it was the Rhinos that broke through first…and last.
El Pasoan Mike Rivera took Mike Fazio’s pass on a run down the middle of the slot and roofed his shot over Olsson’s left shoulder to open the scoring at 7:27 of the first period. The former Chapin Husky’s goal stood for more than half the game.
The Brahmas finally got one by Casper in the third to equalize as Albert Bolush took advantage of an odd-man rush at 3:18.
But the thrill on the visitor’s bench lasted just over three minutes as El Paso’s Tyler Ridgedell threw off a check to take Frankie Posillico’s pass, deke Olsson to the ice and flick in the forehand shot for the game-winner.
The Rhinos improve to 25-9-2 and their 52 points lift them over Texas for second place in the Mid-West Division of the Western States Hockey League. The Brahmas are now 22-16-4 with 48 points in third place.
The two teams play once more tonight at 7:30 p.m. to finish the series, delayed by severe weather in both Fort Worth and in El Paso. As a result of the weather delay, the Rhinos are giving away general admission tickets. For more information, contact the El Paso Rhinos front office at 915/479.PUCK (7825) or go to www.elpasorhinos.com.