Craig Martin chipped the game-winning goal past Arthur Hollinger midway through the second period and the Phoenix Polar Bears dominated Game One of the Western States Hockey League’s Thorne Cup Finals, 4-1.
The loss puts the defending Thorne Cup champions’ backs against the wall in the best-of-three championship series. The Rhinos must win two straight, beginning with Game Two at 7:30 p.m. MDT Saturday. Game Three would be Sunday afternoon at 5:30 p.m.
All games are being replayed on MetroSports Southwest Cable Channel 24 and will be made available for replay with MetroSports Southwest On Demand, Digital Cable Channel 832 – a part of Time Warner Cable’s On Demand service available to digital cable customers
El Paso started slow and paid the price, as the larger Polar Bears weathered everything their hosts threw at them, breaking through themselves at 4:55 of the first as Rocky DeAngelo one-timed a beautiful pass from Matt Warzynski past Hollinger on the power play.
Even though El Paso shoved its way back into the game, two second period Phoenix strikes just over a minute apart took the wind out of the Rhino’s sails.
Martin tapped home his goal at 11:51 and Troy Crowley’s top shelf strike at 12:55 proved too much for El Paso to make up.
Rhinos winger Nick Gualano scored on the power play to finally get El Paso on the board at 13:20 of the third, but Scott Skrudland back-handed a shot just inside the right post a mere 10 seconds later, making the final score, 4-1.
For tickets or information to Saturday’s Game Two, contact the Rhinos front office at 915.479.PUCK (7825) or go to www.elpasorhinos.com.