The Rhinos and Dallas Snipers continued the physical play on Sunday that saw the teams total 81 penalty minutes on Saturday. Unlike Saturday, both teams’ power play units took advantage during the Rhinos 10-2 victory. The Rhinos scored three goals with a man advantage, while the Snipers scored twice.
Just like Saturday’s game, forward Kendal Craig opened up the scoring with a great effort – fighting off two Snipers defenders before backhanding the puck top shelf. Defenseman Brennan Johnsson started the power play scoring with a blast from the blue line at 4:58 of the first period. After the Snipers got one back with a power play goal of their own, the Rhinos penalty kill unit would notch another short-handed goal. After stealing the puck at the far blue line, Craig would fight his way down and score with a wrist shot.
With the Rhinos’ usual tough guys forward Gavin Abbott and defenseman John Bowen sitting out due to Saturday’s game misconducts, it looked like the Rhinos may be bullied on Sunday. Defenseman Patrick Gleason made sure that was not the case. Gleason took on the Snipers enforcer Brad Merchant. To almost all observers, partisan and non-partisan, it appeared that Gleason got the better of the 6’3”, 265 lb. Merchant. The Rhinos doled out most of the punishment for the remainder of the game. Merchant did not see the ice again following his five for fighting.
Four minutes into the second period, forward Marek Langhammer would score on the power play with a great assist from forward Jordan Cullum. Although Cullum was unable to score for the sixth game in a row, he did assist on two goals. For the second game of the series, forward Jeramy Rezaeepour scored off of a put back following a Craig shot. Less than a minute later, the team’s leading scorer Jiri Pestuka would net his 38th goal of the season. Following yet another Snipers’ power play goal, last night’s two goal man, forward Mitch Cobby would find the back of the net again.
For almost half of the third period it appeared that the Rhinos were content to finish the game with seven goals. Then forward Bryton Tomko made a beautiful centering pass from behind the goal to streaking forward Sebastian Borg who made it eight on the night for the Rhinos. A short time later Langhammer would score his second of the night and seventeenth of the season. The final goal of the night came on a beautiful centering pass by Cobby over a sliding defender right onto the tape of forward Jonah Pearson who slipped the puck past the Snipers goaltender.
Next weekend the second place Oklahoma City Blazers make their way to El Paso. The puck drops on Friday night at 7:30pm at the Sierra Providence Events Center. The Rhinos will be participating in their fifth annual St. Baldrick’s Event where fans can bid on a chance to help shave the head of their favorite (or least favorite) Rhino. All bids for the head shaving will be done during the El Paso Rhinos home game Saturday, February 28th at 7:30pm. Bidding will conclude at the 10 minute mark of the 3rd period. Anyone that can’t make the game but wanting to bid can do so via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Email submissions must be submitted by February 27th at 11pm.
– Jason Green