Feb. 26, 2012
El Paso, TX – In a less than stellar weekend, the El Paso Rhinos were thankfully able to close the book with a 5-4 overtime victory on what was another successful regular season. The final series against the Dallas Ice Jets was an ugly one that the Rhinos are more than happy to look away from as they narrowly avoid getting swept on their way to the Mid-West Conference portion of playoffs.
The Rhinos have everything riding on them this year as they not only won the Conference but are hosting the Thorne Cup Playoffs, and this weekend set a very dulcet tone heading into them until Sunday. After dropping to 3-0 going into the first intermission, El Paso looked as if they had been t’ed up for another crushing defeat at the hands of Dallas.
However a goal by John Morales soon sparked the crowd in attendance and the Rhinos were off to the races. Morales followed it up with another, and then a third by Mike Rivera to tie it up at the end of the second. The two teams would trade a goal in final period of regulation and a searing shot by Trey Hughes sent Dallas packing.
With the overtime victory, El Paso avoided what would have been their first home sweep in franchise history. But now they can focus on other things, for example their first round opponent: The New Mexico Renegades. The season series between the two was in favor of the Rhinos 4-2, however New Mexico played hard in the series as they won both openers. El Paso needs to channel the final game of the series in which they won 11-2 if they hope to quickly move past this team.
Playoffs for the Rhinos begin Friday, March 9th in a best of three. They will have just under two weeks to figure out how to avoid what happened this weekend or else they could be hosting a tournament they aren’t in.
Matt Prosser, El Paso Rhinos Beat Writer for JuniorHockey.com. Founder of Fifty8 Productions and freelance writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. Voice of California State University, Sacramento Hockey and host of The Sports Cycle with Matt Prosser on KSSU1580 Sacramento. For comments and writing ventures e-mail Matt@Fifty8productions.com. Follow on Twitter @MattProsser58 or visit www.kssusportsycle.com.