El Paso goalie Andrew Duff earned his Rhinos record 15th career shutout as El Paso out-dueled the San Antonio Diablos, 3-0, to earn a berth in the Mid-West Division championship series.
Credit the Diablos; after enduring a 7-1 loss Friday, San Antonio kept the game close throughout, playing tight defense when it counted against an El Paso attack that outshot them, 42-15.
But El Paso got things going with offensive contributions from its newest defenseman, Vinnie Bohn, who opened the scoring and added an assist to be named First Star of the Game.
Bohn scored with an opportunistic flip from behind the net, hooking the puck off Diablos\’ goalie Cody Davis for the goal at 11:56 of the first period. It was Bohn\’s first goal after joining the Rhinos last month.
San Antonio continued to keep things close, holding El Paso\’s high-flying offense scoreless in the second period.
But at 7:44 of the third, Bohn made a cross-ice pass to fellow d-man Andrew Ketterer who laced a hard shot that was deflected into the net by Frankie Posillico.
The Diablos pulled Davis in a last-ditch effort to get back in the game, but Donald Geary — who started the scoring in Friday\’s Game One win — finished the scoring with an unassisted empty-net goal at 19:23.
The Rhinos move on to face the only team in the Mid-West Division to have beaten them in the regular season, the Boulder Bison. Boulder outscored the Tulsa Rampage, 14-2, in a two-game sweep to earn a trip to El Paso next weekend with the division championship on the line.
The Rhinos are seeking their fourth consecutive Mid-West Division championship, and the berth in the Thorne Cup Finals and the Tier III Junior A National Championship tournament that goes along with it.
The best-of-three Mid-West Division finals gets underway Friday, March 5, and Saturday, March 6, at 7:30 p.m. MST. If necessary, a deciding third game would be played Sunday, March 7, at 5:30 p.m. MST.
For tickets and information, call the El Paso Rhinos front office at 915/479-PUCK (7825) or go to www.elpasorhinos.com.