David Nelson scored a hat trick and five of his El Paso teammates scored as the Rhinos regained first place in the Mid-West Conference with a solid 8-2 win over the visiting Park City Moose Thursday night.
Nelson opened the scoring at 7:41 of the first period, but, though El Paso dominated possession, it wouldn’t find the net again in the opening frame.
The Moose’s Cole Dodson tied the game on a deflection with just 1:31 left in the first and the hosts were left scratching their heads with the score tied, 1-1, going into the first intermission.
Matt Pietrzykowski helped the Rhinos find the answer, scoring the power play goal that broke the game open at 8:07 of the second period.
Just 27 seconds later, Nelson made it 3-1 for the home team, lifting in a shot from above left circle with Park City goaltender Alex Burdekin was completely screened off from the play.
Nelson scored his hat trick goal at 12:35 to make it 4-1, teammate Dallas Szustak tallied with 13 seconds left to wrap up a four-goal second, and El Paso’s questions were answered.
The Moose’s Dennis Zvarev scored a breakaway goal on a beautiful pass from Jordan Matthys to open up the third period’s scoring, but the Rhinos countered with Tyler Basham’s power play goal at 6:33, defenseman Alex Stephens’ tally at 10:03 and Alex Koopmeiners’ goal at 16:37 to wrap the scoring.
El Paso improves to 24-7-1 and the Rhinos 49 points lifts them one point ahead of the idle Dallas Ice Jets for top spot in the Western States Hockey League’s Mid-West Conference.
Park City falls to 4-29-1. The Moose are fifth in the five-team Mountain Conference.
The two teams battle again Friday and Saturday night. Both games will start at 7:30 p.m. MST. For tickets and more information, contact the Rhinos’ front office at 915/479.PUCK (7825).