Saturday night’s game was not decided until the third period – but once it was – the win was an emphatic one for the defending Thorne Cup Champions. El Paso won the second game of a potential three game series to send the Snipers home for the season. The Rhinos will now sit back and await the winner of the Oklahoma City Blazers and Springfield Express series which is currently tied at one game apiece.
As the game began, the Rhinos looked like it would be another fairly easy victory like Friday’s 6-1 win. Forward Jordan Cullum streaked in on goal and netted a beautiful wraparound to put the Rhinos up only three minutes into the first period. The Snipers came out with a lot more fight on Saturday, however. Not long after the ice was cleaned up from the torrent of stuffed animals that rained down following the first goal on teddy bear toss night – the Snipers netted a power play goal to draw even.
Three minutes later, Snipers goaltender Sander Berg made an outstanding save on a wicked Gavin Abbott wrister. Unfortunately for Berg, the rebound popped straight up in the air and landed in the middle of the crease for an easy Mitch Cobby poke in goal. The resilient and relentless Snipers drew even once again at the 12 minute mark to head into the second period at a score of 2-2.
The second period saw a total of 20 shots between the two teams but no goals allowed by either Berg or El Paso goaltender Alek Lazarski. The third period was when the Rhinos championship pedigree and determination pulled them ahead once and for all. No matter how hard Dallas would pressure the Rhinos at the blue line, the champions would not be denied. Forward Sebastian Borg wristed in a shot from an impossible angle to take the lead only 20 seconds into the third.
Less than a minute later, the Rhinos leading playoff scorer, forward Kendal Craig netted his third in two games. Forward Jeramy Rezaeepour centered a pass from the right circle to find Craig’s stick blade for a beautiful fourth goal. Forward Bryton Tomko finished up the 5-2 defeat with an unassisted shorthanded goal to completely dash the hopes of the Snipers.
The Rhinos will host the Express or Blazers next weekend. The first game begins at 7:30pm at the Sierra Providence Events Center. Tonight’s game was a sellout so, don’t delay in getting your tickets to the Conference Championship Series!