Ben Henne’s short-handed goal at 13:45 of the third lifted the El Paso Rhinos past the Boulder Bison, 5-4, as El Paso moves to 4-3 on the young season at the expense of the defending Mid-West Division champions.
Boulder, which ended El Paso’s three-year run as division champs last winter, also upended the Rhinos by winning two of three games in Boulder to begin the season, leaving El Paso itching for a measure of payback.
After squandering a two-goal lead, though, the Rhinos seemed anything but hungry.
Tyler Ridgedell notched a power play goal 3:42 into the game, followed just over three minutes later by Jared Lehman, and El Paso seemed back to its winning ways.
But Boulder scored a power play goal of their own as Yari Neitenbach beat Rhinos goaltender Keenan Wallace at 13:14 of the first.
The Bison looked sharper than their hosts in the second period as Dustin Simmons scored the only goal for either team, tying the game at 9:20. And when Nick Sutton scored Boulder’s third-straight goal on the power play at 1:15 of the final frame, El Paso fans began to sense real danger.
The Rhinos’ Chip Callahan helped alleviate those fears with the tying goal at 6:45 of the third, a hard-work shot scored in traffic right at Boulder goalie Michael Porter’s crease.
Todd Thomas scored for El Paso to make it 4-3 at 8:56; but the home team’s sighs of relief lasted exactly 1:40 as Boulder’s Max Meints roofed his shot home to tie the game a third time.
However, the Rhinos had rediscovered their forecheck, and with 6:15 left in regulation, Henne made the comeback stick, lifting his off-balance wrist shot over Porter’s glove hand for the top shelf goal.
El Paso plays the Bison twice more, Saturday at 7:30 p.m. MDT, and Sunday at 5:30 p.m. MDT. For tickets and information, call the Rhinos’ front office at 915/479.PUCK (7825).