Former Rhinos goaltender Brenden Manquen stopped 26 of 27 shots and the Fresno Monsters beat El Paso, 3-1, to wrap up the Western States Hockey League Showcase in Las Vegas, NV, Friday.
After dropping two straight games at Showcase — the league-sponsored event that attracts college scouts from all over the nation — Fresno wasn\’t about to leave Las Vegas quietly.
The Rhinos had some narrow escapes, but El Paso still won three and lost one — always a solid result in Vegas.
Things started well enough for the Rhinos, as David Nelson notched a power play goal to open the scoring at 13:52 of the first period.
But Filip Winkler equalized for Fresno at 21:11 to tie the game at intermission (for time considerations, WHSL teams play to 25-minute halves at the Showcase).
The Monsters would not look back, as Nick McKee scored the game-winner — another power play goal at 7:45 of the second.
Winkler closed the scoring with his second at 12:53.
Fresno has earned the reputation of a team that is always ready to challenge the opposition physically, and sometimes verbally. For a team that had flirted with taking bad penalties throughout their time in Las Vegas, the statline will show El Paso may have taken the bait.
There were no fights, but the Rhinos had just five power plays to the Monsters\’ eight, and Fresno took advantage, scoring on El Paso when it needed it most.
Fresno (19-3-0, 38 points) also outshot El Paso, 35-27 — a rare occurrence for the Rhinos.
The Rhinos (13-4-2, 41 points) will take Christmas and New Year\’s off before returning to action Jan. 11, on the road in Cheyenne, WY.
For information, go to www.elpasorhinos.com, or download the Rhinos\’ app for your Apple or Android smartphone or tablet.