Marcus Wilhite found Nick Gorup on a short-handed run into the Phoenix end and Gorup’s shot beat Phoenix goalie Corey Morbeck at 12:39 of the first. The Rhinos have scored six short-handed goals in four straight games to tie the Polar Bears for the league lead with 12 on the season.
Zach Goller notched another for El Paso just 46 seconds from the end of the first period, assisted by Gorup and Sherman.
Phoenix’s Patrick Flynn brought the Polar Bears within one with the only goal of the second period at 12:45.
But what the second frame lacked in terms of fireworks was more than overshadowed by a four-goal third, as the Rhinos improved their lead to two again on Alec Sherman’s breakaway strike at 3:53, assisted by new forward Kevin Davis and Hinn.
Phoenix would show their heart, though, storming back to tie the game, 4-4, with two goals less than four minutes apart, as first, Zach Brown scored unassisted at 4:37, followed by the league’s second-leading scorer, Josh Larricchia, at 8:18.
However, El Paso’s hard skating and work ethic would net them one more goal, put in by its newest player, Kevin Davis. The physical Davis took a feed from Zach Kohn and found himself with an open shot in the slot, beating Morbeck with the wrister at 10:27.
Then, for the next 9:33, the Rhinos got their win with solid defense and with more than a little help from Hollinger. Though his goals-against average went up slightly to 2.13, he is still fourth among leading netminders and he was facing the highest-scoring team in the league. Hollinger made 22 saves of the 26 shots he faced from the Polar Bears.
The league will now take its winter break through the Holidays and return in January, 2008. The Rhinos start the second half of the season next Jan. 11-13 with a homestand against the Dallas Hawks at the Sierra-Providence Events Center. Fans can watch the game at the team’s website, HYPERLINK “http://www.elpasorhinos.com/“www.elpasorhinos.com, courtesy of B2 Media.