(EL PASO, TX) — Nick Plesa scored twice and the El Paso Rhinos held off a hard-charging San Diego Gulls team, 5-3, in El Paso\’s home opener.
The Rhinos improve to 7-0-0, and their 14 points keeps pace with the Dallas Snipers atop the Midwest Division.
Plesa — one of three brothers from Calgary, AB, who came to El Paso to play together — scored the opening goal just 51 seconds into the game.
Czech Republic defenseman Roman Konecny scored a power play at 11:18 and d-man Tyler Elson made it 3-0 at 15:51.
But despite their best players being racked by the flu, San Diego (1-7-1, 3 points) was resilient, scoring twice in the second period to make it 3-2 after 40 minutes.
Kyle Rimbach scored at 9:35 of the second frame, followed by new defenseman Kalvis Ozols, who lasered a shot past Rhinos goalie Adam Vay for the power play goal at 16:50 to make it a game heading into the final period.
But again Plesa scored early in the frame, chipping one by Gulls goaltender Brody Cavataio 61 seconds in. Trey Hughes followed Plesa with a power play goal at 5:19.
Ozols wrapped up the scoring with another power play top shelf bomb from the blue line at 7:50, but San Diego could not take advantage of even more power play opportunities to draw closer to the hosts.
The two teams will play twice more, Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. MDT and Sunday afternoon at 5:30 p.m. For tickets and information, contact the Rhinos\’ front office at 915.479.PUCK (7825) or go to www.elpasorhinos.com.=