For the second time in three games, the El Paso Rhinos and the San Antonio Diablos played past regulation in the Alamo City. For the second time in three games, the Rhinos won, this time in a shootout, 3-2.
El Paso stays a perfect 15-0-0 on the road with a gritty effort against its determined hosts Sunday afternoon, keyed by a solid performance from goaltender Cooper Frederick.
While the Rhinos’ Andrew Duff gets some playing time with El Paso’s sister team in the NAHL, the Topeka Roadrunners, Frederick comes to the Rhinos in exchange. After a shaky start in Friday’s 6-5 overtime win, Frederick was solid in net, keeping his new teammates in business even in the pressure cooker of a shootout.
In the other goal, Mike Becker was El Paso’s nemesis all night long, stopping 45 of 48 Rhinos shots while Frederick turned away 25 of 27 from the Diablos.
Billy Krueger was first to break through in the game, beating Becker at 13:46 of the first period.
As happy as Rhinos head coach Cory Herman was with the first 20 minutes, he was unhappy with the second stanza.
“In the second period we were undisciplined,” said Herman. “But as bad as it got, our penalty killers really stepped it up.”
But both teams had their run-ins with the penalty box in the second period and San Antonio was first to capitalize, tying the game, 1-1, on Jason Webb’s power play goal at 4:04.
The Rhinos got a power play goal of their own on Trevor Erickson’s strike at 7:34, however Chris Ladrow would tie the game a second time with a goal just 1:37 left in the period.
A scoreless third period and a scoreless overtime meant a best-of-three shootout, and Frederick made the most of his chance at redemption after being chased from goal by the Diablos Friday.
Zach Kohn came hard on the attack and beat Becker for the game-winner as the defending Thorne Cup champions improved to 20-1-0 on the season.
“We ran into a hot goalie in Becker,” said Herman. “This was a good character win for a team with a couple of new faces. Frederick impressed and (forward) Shane Callahan is really beginning to understand our system. He’s a good hockey player already, so it’s just a matter of time.”
Callahan picked up his first point as a Rhino as the lone assist on Krueger’s opening goal.
El Paso leads the Mid-West Division of the Western States Hockey League by five points over second place Tulsa, while the Rampage’s lead over San Antonio has dwindled to one point as the Diablos pick up a point for taking Sunday’s game past regulation.
The Rhinos return to the Sierra Providence Events Center for two consecutive weekend series beginning Friday, Dec. 5th, against the Texas Renegades. For more information and tickets visit the El Paso Rhinos website (www.elpasorhinos.com) or call the front office at 915.479.PUCK (7825).