(EL PASO, TX) — Drew DePalma and Peter Pleśa each scored hat tricks, goaltender Adam Vay stopped all 27 shots he faced and the El Paso Rhinos wrapped up the regular season with a 12-0 win and series sweep over the Dallas Snipers.
El Paso (44-2-0-0, 88 points) finish with the best record in the Western States Hockey League — its best season ever — and will have home ice advantage throughout the Thorne Cup Playoffs, beginning next weekend against this same Snipers’ team.
Matthew Pleśa scored the opening goal 4:01 into the game to become only the second Rhino ever to score 100 points in the regular season.
Pleśa finished with two assists as well for 102 points (38g, 64a), finishing third in the league behind the Long Beach Bombers’ Filip Martinec (46g, 63a, 109 points) and Tomas Nemeth (30g, 75a, 105 points), and just ahead of brother Peter Pleśa (33g, 57a, 90 points).
The Rhinos started with an eight-goal first period and never looked back, as DePalma had two goals before the first period was over, following Matt Pleśa’s opener with another just 41 seconds later.
Peter Pleśa scored twice in a row — once on the power play at 8:03, then again short-handed at 10:56, El Paso’s WSHL-record 39th shorthanded goal of the season.
DePalma and Pleśa notched their hat trick goals in the third period. Vay earned his fifth shutout of the season.
The Rhinos will host the Snipers in the best-of-three Midwest Division semifinals to begin the Thorne Cup Playoffs next Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. MDT and, if necessary, Sunday at 4:30 p.m. MDT.
For tickets and information, contact the El Paso Rhinos’ front office at 915/479.PUCK (7825), or go to www.elpasorhinos.com.