Fort Bliss brought out its business tools to show off for the sold-out crowd of 1,563, including the futuristic M1A2SEP Main Battle Tank, the M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle, a Patriot Missile System and a 50-foot climbing wall courtesy of the National Guard.
Soldiers fromFortBliss rappelled from theSierra-ProvidenceEventsCenter ceiling with Old Glory in tow for a unique Presentation of the Colors before the game.
With the Hanson Brothers of “Slap Shot” fame also in attendance, El Paso forward Patrick Caya seemed inspired to live up to their “Old-Time Hockey” credo, fighting Colorado’s Chad James just 1:33 into the game, then getting thrown out for shoving an official.
The rest of the contest wasn’t quite so physical, but there was plenty of hard checking dished out by both teams.
The Outlaws are one of two Mid-West Division teams, including the Tulsa Rampage, to take points away from the Rhinos this season. Though El Paso has taken at least a point from every game it has played, it did lose in a shootout, 4-3, at Colorado last October.
But the Rhinos have not lost since, racking up 21 consecutive wins, the longest current streak in the Western States Hockey League. Phoenix has had the longest win streak of the season – 26 games, ended byEl Paso in the WSHL Showcase last December.
Credit the first-year Outlaws program coached by Jeremy Chatman – after Austin Balko opened the scoring at 14:07 of the first period, Colorado fought their way back to tie it at 9:55 of the second on Steffen Veum’s unassisted goal and was outshooting El Paso up to that point.
However, most times the Rhinos have been challenged this season coach Cory Herman’s team has answered the bell. It did again, rattling off four straight scores on the Outlaws’ starting goaltender David Herman in less than six minutes.
Defenseman Bo Hernandez gave El Paso the lead again on the powerplay at 12:58 of the second, followed by another just 1:24 later by Bill Krueger’s powerplay deflection.
Zach Kohn scored unassisted at 16:28; then, on another Rhinos power play, won a draw in the left circle, skated in on Herman drawing him off his line and dished to Hayden Kowalski for the easy tap-in six seconds into the man advantage at 18:35, giving El Paso a 5-1 lead by period’s end.
Colorado ’s Lee McMunigal got one back on the powerplay at 7:05 of the third, but Jeremy Schmudlach answered for the home team at 10:42.
Joe Carroll got the Outlaws’ third of the night at 12:26, as Colorado flooded the crease in front of Rhinos’ starting netminder Arthur Hollinger. ButEl Paso put up three more before game’s end; two from Alec Sherman, who carried defenders up the ice with him for his goals at 13:45 and 15:24, and a second for Schmudlach, named First Star of the Game for his multi-point night, at 14:50.
El Paso will duel the Outlaws once more Sunday afternoon at 5:30 p.m. Go to www.pointstreak.com for live game tracking. Just key “WSHL” into the hockey searchbar and follow the links.