El Paso scored twice on four power plays and Marcus Wilhite notched the Rhinos’ league-leading 16th shorthanded goal of the season in one ofEl Paso ’s more complete efforts from start to finish.
Defenseman Costi Hinn started the scoring at 3:52 of the first period and Nick Gorup followed at 12:41 with a nifty top-shelf effort over 16-year-old starting goalie Alex Pomorleau.
Zach Kohn scored at 18:06 to round out the scoring for the period, chasing Pomorleau from net.
Bill Krueger got the first Rhinos power play goal at 2:22 of the second period on the Outlaws regular starting goaltender, David Herman; but then Colorado began to establish its game, matching El Paso shot-for-shot – going into the final minute of the second frame, the Outlaws’ confidence had grown exponentially as each team had 12 shots.
But the Rhinos’ 13th shot of the second went for a goal just 35 seconds from time. Zach Goller and Jeffrey Schmudlach combined on a voracious forecheck in back of Herman. Prying the puck loose, Goller skated out from the behind the net and roofed the puck over Herman.
El Paso continued to unleash punishment in the third as Wilhite scored an even-strength goal just 35 seconds in.
Eric LaBounty scored the Rhinos second power play goal at 4:42, followed by Alec Sherman at 9:34.
Wilhite’s shorthanded goal rounded out the scoring at 13:53, as El Paso ’s leading scorer received a perfect two-line pass from Bill Krueger at the Outlaws’ blue line. Deking Herman down to the ice, Wilhite had an empty net in which to place his 29th goal of the season.
Natali’s 16th win against no losses moved him from fourth to second in the Western States Hockey League with a 1.93 goals-against average.
Rhinos’ goalie Arthur Hollinger remains fifth in the league with a 2.19 GAA after returning from a brief stint with El Paso’s Junior A, Tier I partner inTopeka, KS .
Wilhite’s two goals along with one assist give him 66 points on the season, tying the California forward for fourth place among the WSHL’s leading scorers.
Centerman Zach Kohn isn’t far behind at 61 points, good for eighth place, and winger Hayden Kowalski is 10th with 58 points.
The Rhinos also sport the league’s best penalty kill, keeping the opposition scoreless on their power plays almost 93 percent of the time.
El Paso’s 20 straight wins is the longest active streak in the league and is second to the Phoenix Polar Bears, which rattled off 26 straight prior to the Rhinos’ 5-4 win over Phoenix at the WSHL Showcase in San Antonio last December.
The Hanson Brothers hit town Saturday night as El Paso honorsFortBliss on Military Appreciation Night. The U.S. Army will be showing off the Patriot Missile Defense System, along with two cutting-edge military vehicles, the M1A2SEP Battle Tank and the M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle. The National Guard will bring a climbing wall for kids of all ages to try.
Fans are encouraged to sit in the vehicles, take pictures and talk to the soldiers who run them. The festivities start at 5 p.m.
Slap Shot’s own Hanson Brothers will then entertain the crowd inside the Sierra-Providence Events Center during the game. An extra 150 standing-room-only tickets have been made available for fans for the 7:30 p.m. MST game.
The Rhinos and Outlaws finish up Sunday afternoon at 5:30 p.m.