The Rhinos won on Friday night against the Dallas Snipers by a final score of 6-1. Despite the large amount of goals in the Rhinos favor, the true story was in the play of the El Paso defense. Contrary to their name, the Snipers were only able to muster 10 shots on goal against a staunch Rhinos back line.
The team’s leading goal scorer, forward Jiri Pestuka opened the scoring in the first period. The Rhinos were unable to score during the first minute of a power play after Dallas defenseman Pavol Kotzman received a hooking penalty at 5:52 of the period. Only after Rhino forward Gavin Abbott received a hooking penalty a minute later was Pestuka able to score with both teams down to four skaters. Forward Sebastian Borg fed the puck to a streaking Pestuka from behind the net for a great playoff opening goal.
Just as it looked like the Snipers would be able to hold the Rhinos to only one goal on 16 first period shots, the Rhinos netted another one with only 20 seconds left in the period. This time Pestuka returned the favor – in a way – for Borg. Pestuka blasted a slapshot from the top of the faceoff circle and Borg popped in the rebound.
In the second period, what seemed like a relentless Snipers attack only saw a total of four shots on goal. Once again the Rhinos defense was able to stop almost every shot from reaching goaltender Adam Vay. With only two minutes left in the period, Kotzman was able to net the first and only goal with a rebound put back against Vay. The Snipers bench was joyous but their joy was short-lived when forward Martin Hanl broke in alone on goal. Hanl saw a streaking teammate coming to the other side of the crease as he got near the goaltender. He used a fake pass toward his teammate as a chance to open the goalie’s five-hole and make it 3-1 with only seven seconds left in the period.
In the third period, the Snipers were held to only one shot on a goal and the large difference in time of possession led to three more Rhinos goals. Forward Kendal Craig took the lead in playoff goals for the Rhinos following two goals only five minutes apart. At 3:28 Craig punched in the rebound off of forward Lukas Znosko’s blast of a slapshot. At 8:03, Craig was there once again as Znosko centered the puck from behind the net to make the score 5-1. Forward Jonah Pearson rounded out the scoring at the 14 minute mark with an unassisted power play goal off of a nice wrist shot while teammate Hanl provided a screen in front of the crease.
Tomorrow night the Rhinos can finish up this round of the playoffs with a victory to take the first two in the three game series. The puck drops at 7:30pm at the Sierra Providence Events Center. Don’t forget to bring a stuffed animal for the Rhinos annual Teddy Bear Toss! Also, don’t forget to bring your pocketbook to participate in the Rhinos annual Teddy Bear Toss jersey auction!
– Jason Green