Rhinos 5, Renegades 3

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Drew Montague and Austin Balko scored power play goals 11 seconds apart in the third period and the El Paso Rhinos beat the Texas Renegades, 5-3, at the Sierra Providence Events Center.
El Paso won its 21st game against just one loss and paces the Mid-West Division of the Western States Hockey League with 42 points. Texas drops under .500 with a 10-11-0 record, staying in fourth place in the Mid-West with 20 points.
Leading 2-1 going into the third, nothing was assured for the home team taking on a Renegades side that was getting a great effort from goaltender Kyle Sykes. But a five-minute major penalty was assessed to the Fort Worth’s Josh Skinner for boarding at 3:45 of the third after Skinner took out Rhinos forward David Fegler.
Fegler stayed down after the hit and had to be helped off the ice. The winger will undergo tests on his right knee Saturday to determine the extent of his injury.
It didn’t take long for El Paso to take advantage on the man advantage – major penalties stay on the board for their duration, no matter how many goals are scored. The Rhinos made sure to use that to great effect early on, starting their decisive goal-scoring binge just 29 seconds into the power play.
Montague struck at 4:14, blasting a slap shot from the blue line that five-holed Sykes before the goalie could react.
Still shaking off the effects Montague’s goal, Sykes wasn’t ready for El Paso to come right back at him, as Austin Balko skated by defenders from left wing and beat the Texas goalie at 4:25.
The Renegades would not quit, though, as Brandon Christensen weaved his way through the Rhinos slot and popped a knuckling shot over El Paso goalie Arthur Hollinger’s shoulder and under the crossbar at 12:19, then used the first of a pair of two-man advantages to get within a goal of the defending Thorne Cup champs.
At 14:22 of the third, Hollinger got caught out of his net as the goalie moved to his left to quell two Texas attackers, only to have the puck carom behind him and straight to Renegades’ leading scorer Richard Cetnarowski, who had a wide-open net for his 20th goal of the season to make it 4-3.
But even as Texas was awarded another 5-on-3 power play right after its third goal, the Renegades were held in check by an excellent penalty killing effort by the Rhinos. And with time running out, Texas never got an opportunity to pull Sykes for the extra attacker, as a Rhinos’ forecheck that had been unyielding through much of the game netted a breathing-room goal from Bill Krueger, much in the same fashion as Cetnarowski’s.
Zach Kohn and Nick Gorup also scored their team-leading 17th and 16th goals of the season, respectively, in the first period as El Paso continues to lead the Mid-West by five points going into Saturday night’s game with the Renegades, the second of a three-game weekend home stand at the SPEC.
Balko and Montague were First and Second Stars of the Game, followed by Sykes, who stopped 54 of 59 Rhinos shots. El Paso outshot Texas, 59-13.
 Fans can call 915.479.PUCK (7825) for tickets and information, or head to the Rhinos’ website, www.elpasorhinos.com.