(EL PASO, TX) — Reinis Vitolins scored twice and El Paso outshot the Wichita Junior Thunder, 33-18, as the Rhinos celebrated their 2014 league and national championships with a 5-2 win Saturday night.
The Rhinos handed out their championship rings and unveiled their WSHL and United Hockey Union championship banners in front of another packed house at the Events Center before the game.
Gavin Abbott opened the scoring for the hosts at 9:54 of the first period. Left unchecked, Abbott skated from behind Wichita goalie Jake Larson’s net and roofed his shot over Larson’s left shoulder.
Vitolins scored next and from nearly the same spot on the ice as Abbott, one-timing Jiri Pestuka’s pass over Larson at 17:54 of the first.
The Latvian did it again to open a three-goal second period, one-timing a tape-to-tape cross-ice pass from defenseman Patrick Stancl just 46 seconds into the frame.
Vitolins turned provider for the next goal, assisting on centerman Sebastian Borg\’s goal at 8:41 of the second to make it 4-0 for the Rhinos.
But Wichita did not slip away quietly. The Junior Thunder answered Borg’s goal just 53 seconds later, as Ivan Brvenik took a two-line pass from Peter Cicmanek and beat El Paso goaltender Adam Vay for the first time this weekend.
Rhinos defenseman Robert Horak blasted in a goal from the blue line at 13:15, but Wichita’s Matt McClelland would finish the scoring at 16:22 of the second.
El Paso’s International Line of Borg (Sweden), Pestuka (Czech Republic) and Vitolins (Latvia) have accounted for six of the Rhinos’ 10 goals so far this weekend. Vitolins’ hat trick keyed El Paso’s 5-0 shutout win Friday, followed by Vitolins and Borg Saturday.
The teams will play once more Sunday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. MDT. The game will feature $1.00 hot dogs.
For tickets and information, contact the Rhinos’ front office at 915.479.PUCK (7825), or go to www.elpasorhinos.com.