El Pasoan Mike Rivera scored the first goal unassisted at 11:51 of the first period.
Turned out to be a sign that it was going to be the El Paso Rhinos’ night.
Exactly 20 seconds after Rivera’s opening goal, Tyler Ridgedell scored off a Ben Henne pass; the opponent, Tulsa, pulled their starting goaltender, Austin Campbell, and the rout was on.
Frankie Posillico scored for the hosts with just 23 seconds left, capping a three-goal first period. The newest Rhino, Matt Tritsch, scored his second of the weekend at 7:02 of the second frame.
The third period saw El Paso equal the previous two in goals – all scored in under six minutes. Defenseman Tyler Benson notched his second of the weekend just 1:34 in, followed by three straight Rhinos power play goals.
First up on the man advantage was a young man with a name familiar to many Rhinos fans: 17-year-old defenseman Chris Wilhite, the younger brother of forward Marcus Wilhite, who helped the Rhinos with the Thorne Cup three seasons ago.
Wilhite scored his first goal as a Rhino at 3:09, followed by Posillico – the only player to score more than once – at 6:09, and defenseman Vinnie Bohn at 7:14.
El Paso notched its 20th win of the season with the victory and now stands just two points behind the Texas Brahmas for second place in the Mid-West Division of the Western States Hockey League, 42 points to the Brahmas 44. The Rhinos also have seven games in hand on Texas, and three on division-leading Boulder.
El Paso will hit the road next weekend with a three-game series against the New Mexico Renegades in Rio Rancho, NM, before returning home Super Bowl weekend to face the Brahmas.
The game originally scheduled by the WSHL to take place Super Bowl Sunday has been moved to Thursday, Feb. 3. For tickets and information, contact the Rhinos front office at 915/479.PUCK (7825) or go to www.elpasorhinos.com.