El Paso had chased Tulsa’s starting goaltender, Brent Troyan, with three quick goals in the first period, taking a 3-1 lead into the locker room after the first 20 minutes. But Josh Brown did an admirable job in relief for coach Chad McLeod’s Rampage, which put a little room between themselves and the Rhinos in the standings.
McLeod relishes games against El Paso – a team that has beaten his squad in the last two Mid-West Division finals.
Tulsa improves to 13-4-1 and its 27 points paces the Mid-West Division in the Western States Hockey League. The San Antonio Diablos downed the Dallas Hawks Sunday to take over second place with 24 points and the Rhinos are in third at 11-1-0 and 22 points.
El Paso goalie Arthur Hollinger absorbs his first loss of the season, falling to 6-1-0, after dealing with a voracious Rampage forecheck.
Nick Gorup, Austin Balko and David Fegler on the power play had given the home team a 3-1 lead in the first 20 minutes. However, rather than wilt in their third game in three nights at altitude, Tulsa charged that much harder.
The Rampage’s Derek Thompson and Alex Riveness scored in the second period, overshadowing Balko’s lone tally in the second 20 minutes for El Paso. Riveness also scored in the first period – both goals coming on the power play.
The third period belonged to Tulsa, as Riveness notched the hat trick on a two-man advantage just 20 seconds into the action, tying the game, 4-4. That was countered by Balko’s hat trick, short-handed at 5:13, giving the Rhinos a 5-4 lead.
But two Michael Criscuolo goals for the Rampage in the final three minutes of the game did in El Paso.
Criscuolo was named First Star of the Game, as he tied it, 5-5, on Tulsa’s fourth power play goal of the night at 17:06 of the third; followed by the game-winner – another hard-work tip-in – at 18:34.
The Rhinos found themselves short-handed six times in the third period alone as the Rampage made hay, going 4-of-14 with the man advantage. As a result, Tulsa outshot their hosts, 20-3, in the third frame and 42-34 for the game.
El Paso will return to the ice two weekends from now as they host the Colorado Outlaws, Friday, Nov. 7th, through Sunday, Nov. 9th. For ticket information, call the El Paso Rhinos front office at 915.479.PUCK (7825).