Rhinos Beat the Brahmas in “Go for Gusto” Jerseys
Tied for second in the Midwest Division, the El Paso Rhinos traveled to Ft. Worth on Friday to take on the only team ahead of them in the standings, the Texas Brahmas. As if the desire to take down the number one team wasn’t enough motivation, the Rhinos also donned a bright orange, patterned jersey in honor of former Rhino, Brenden Gust. After the close of last season, the 5’3 forward was diagnosed with Leukemia. Known for his continuous courage and strength on and off the ice, Brenden remains an inspiration to the franchise as he continues to fight cancer.
Channeling Brenden’s tenacity, the Rhinos took the lead right away. Only a minute and four seconds into the first period, Dakota Beaulieu, assisted by Trey Hughes and Tom Bartel, buried the puck in the back of the net. Near the middle of the period, “the Plesa line,” displayed their familial cohesiveness. Just after the seven minute mark, Matthew received a pass from the eldest brother, Nick, and was able to squeeze it by Texas netminder Oliver Eklund. Nick again positioned himself to set up little brother Matthew, who was able to increase El Paso’s lead to three.
With a slow start to the second period, the Brahmas were able to capitalize on El Paso’s idleness when Colin Edwards scored Texas’ only goal of the game. Eager to maintain the lead, Jake McMullen received a crisp pass from Chris Wilhite and David Bures and notched El Paso’s fourth goal. Six minutes into the third period, Jack Strusz scored the fifth and final goal of the game.
Although the Rhinos outshot the Brahmas 42-33, head coach Cory Herman is not completely satisfied. “There is a lot of room for improvement. We need to play better in our own end and shoot the puck more.” Though the offense saw the limelight, El Paso’s defense also contributed immensely to the win. “I thought our goalie played really well tonight,” Herman notes. Rhino goaltender, Adam Vay, only allowed one goal and with the help of his other defenseman, they killed all three penalties.
The Rhinos will return to the NYTX arena on Saturday for the second game of the series. Throughout the series, they will continue to wear “Go for Gusto” jerseys.