New Rhinos centerman Jordan Crews started the scoring at 9:52 of the first period and Andrew Duff made it stick, stopping all 14 San Antonio shots, as El Paso shut out the Diablos, 5-0.
Duff, who already owns the Rhinos\’ record for most career shutouts, got his 13th overall and his seventh this season.
Having already wrapped up a fourth consecutive Mid-West Division title and home ice advantage through the divisional playoffs, El Paso earned its Western States Hockey League-best 42nd win against just five losses.
The Rhinos\’ 84 points leads second place Boulder by 29.
Crews\’ opening goal was followed exactly 1:15 later by Nick Gualano\’s league-leading 45th goal of the season.
Timothy Avegard and Navarone Copley scored two goals 28 seconds apart, at 14:54 and 15:22, respectively, to close the first period scoring for a 4-0 El Paso lead.
Donald Geary closed the scoring for the night 13 seconds into the third period.
The Rhinos and Diablos will play twice more at 7:30 p.m. MST Saturday and, due to a quirk in league scheduling, at 9 a.m. Sunday morning. For tickets and information, contact the El Paso Rhinos front office at 915/479.PUCK (7825) or go to www.elpasorhinos.com.