(EL PASO, TX) — Goaltender Adam Vay stopped all 17 shots he faced and Kendal Craig scored twice as the El Paso Rhinos shut out the Springfield Express, 5-0, Friday night to open a three-game series in the Events Center.
Vay, the 6-6 Hungarian, wasn’t too busy on the night, but still managed to dazzle with a couple of sparkling saves to keep the Express off the scoreboard, earning his third shutout of the season.
The Budapest native bettered his saves percentage to .924, good for sixth in the Western States Hockey League.
El Paso (26-3-0-0) leads the Midwest Division with 52 points. Springfield (18-13-1-0) still holds the third place spot in the Midwest with 37 points, trailing Oklahoma City by seven points.
Despite being outshot, 14-4, in the opening frame, the visitors presented a stern challenge to the Rhinos. El Paso shelled Express goalie Oliver Eklund but couldn’t break through until Bryton Tomko at 18:23. Even so, Tomko had to wait until a bouncing puck reached the ice near Eklund’s crease before paddling it home for a power play goal.
The hosts poured it on, scoring three goals in the second frame scoring, including the first two just 18 seconds apart.
Martin Hanl laced a shot past Eklund at 4:24, followed by Vojtech Zemlicka at 4:42.
With Springfield on the power play, Craig poked a bad zone clearance away and walked in on Eklund, five-holing the goalie for El Paso’s seventh short-handed goal of the season.
The Amarillo native wrapped up the scoring with his second unassisted goal at 19:11 of the third.
The Rhinos and the Express play twice more, Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. MST, and Sunday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. MST. Sunday’s game features dollar hot dogs. All Rhinos home games have free public skating (with skate rental) after the game.
Saturday night’s game can be heard live on 600 ESPN El Paso. Duke Keith and Corey Heon have the call. All Rhinos home games can be viewed via Southwest Video & Media and America One Broadcasting. Go to elpasorhinos.com for the link ($).
For tickets and more information, contact the El Paso Rhinos front office at 915/479.PUCK (7825), or go to elpasorhinos.com.