(EL PASO, TX) Scott Appleby scored twice including the game-winner in double-overtime and the Superior RoughRiders sent the El Paso Rhinos to their fourth-straight defeat, 5-4, Saturday night at a sold-out El Paso County Events Center.
The Rhinos drop to 3-4-1 and have already dropped their second straight home series. The two teams play once more Sunday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. MST, but Superior’s 4-1 win Friday and Saturday’s late-game heroics have earned the RoughRiders four of six available points on the weekend.
That said, it was El Paso that looked like it had broken out of its doldrums, scoring the opening three goals in under six minutes in the second period.
Ruslan Ignatovics got the party started at 3:22, followed by Kyle Keeder at 6:12 and Cameron Cross at 8:51; and whatever problems the Rhinos’ offense appeared to have looked long gone.
Slowly, but surely, Superior fought their way back.
Marc Demers started the RoughRiders on the road to recovery, making it 3-1 at 9:42 of the second, followed by a power play goal from Ben Novy at 5:41.
El Paso’s Marcus Andrews tucked in the hosts’ fourth of the night at 3:24 of the third; but it didn’t take long for the RoughRiders to trim the deficit to one again, as Appleby landed his first blow at 5:41.
As aggressive as they were through the opening two-and-a-half periods, the Rhinos appeared to take their collective foot off the gas. Superior was happy to pick up the slack, though it took a late power play goal at 17:17 from Dominik Civka to get the RoughRiders all the way back, 4-4.
A pair of penalties in overtime had El Paso playing for the shootout. A head-targeting major got defenseman Austin Grawbarger thrown out of the game. Then, in a scramble at the crease, defenseman Brennan Johnsson was called for corralling the puck and freezing it a delay-of-game minor, as only the goalie is allowed to handle the puck this way.
The Rhinos were able to kill off the two-man advantage but did not survive the entire RoughRiders¹ power play. Left unchecked, Appleby picked his spot and beat El Paso goalie Ryan Buttazoni just over two minutes into the second overtime.
For tickets and information for Sunday’s series closer, contact the Rhinos’ front office at 915/479.PUCK (7825) or go to www.elpasorhinos.com.