After getting shutout, 6-0, by the El Paso Rhinos in Game One of the Mid-West Conference semifinals, no one gave the New Mexico Renegades much chance to win Saturday in the second of a best-of-three series. On the road for the last three weeks of the regular season, the Renegades looked worn out Friday night.
What a difference a day makes.
New Mexico matched the Rhinos goal-for-goal through the first two periods to tie the game, 3-3, and then promptly left their hosts in the dust in the third period, outscoring El Paso, 3-1, in the final frame for a 6-4 win to tie the series, 1-1.
The Rhinos came out aggressive in the third period, understanding the team that scored its fourth goal first would have momentum, but the Renegades were able to counter.
As El Paso\’s defensemen pinched in from the blue line to support the attack, New Mexico got timely clearances for a pair of two-on-one breakaways, each resulting in goals.
John Voyles scored unassisted at 3:09, taking a carom off a deflected Rhinos\’ shot all the way in and beating goalie Trent Caspar low.
Former Rhinos Fredrick Svantesson notched the game-winner against his old team just 2:18 later, lacing a beautiful snap shot over Caspar\’s left shoulder to make it 5-3.
Gunner Bjorklund lifted a tight shot over Renegades\’ goalie Joey MacConnell to give El Paso some hope at 7:17, only to have it taken away by New Mexico\’s Matt Uvodich, who scored the final goal — again, breaking away off of a carom near the Renegades\’ blue line — at 12:22.
The win forces a decisive Game Three Sunday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. MDT. For tickets and information, contact the Rhinos\’ front office at 915/479.PUCK (7825), or go to www.elpasorhinos.com.