Much like last night, the story of the night for Idaho and El Paso was special teams. This time however, it was not in the Rhinos favor. The Rhinos lost the second game of the Thorne Cup Championship Series by a final score of 5-2 to the visiting Idaho Jr. Steelheads.
Idaho’s leading regular season scorer, Victor Carlsson had the only goal of the first period at 12:49 after chipping a wrist shot past last night’s hero, El Paso goaltender Alek Lazarski.
In the second period, the Rhinos’ penalty kill woes began. Despite winning the power play goal advantage, both teams actually had an equal number of penalties with only eight minutes each. Only six seconds after defenseman Robert Horak went to the box for interference, the Steelheads netted their second goal. The second period would see the Rhinos leave the ice down 2-0.
El Paso would get a power play goal of their own to kick off the third period when defenseman David Brancik floated a rebound in to the goal to make the score 2-1. It looked for a while as if the Rhinos were going to come back and break the hearts of the Steelheads once again – that is until another power play goal found its way past Lazarski.
Just as it looked like all hope may be lost, the Rhinos netted their second goal – this one from defenseman Brennan Johnsson – after the Rhinos put the extra attacker on the ice. Unfortunately, the Rhinos – and a capacity crowd’s – joy was quickly diminished following two empty net goals in the last minute and a half of the game.
The Steelheads came to El Paso with the stated intention of taking one game from the Rhinos. It is up to the Rhinos to head to Idaho with a road warrior mentality next weekend, to get two more wins – and bring the Thorne Cup back home to El Paso.
Be sure to join the Rhinos for a watch party here at the Sierra Providence Events Center next weekend to cheer the boys on. The game will be shown on the big screen and TV’s around the arena. Game time to be announced — so stay tuned to elpasorhinos.com for more information.
– Jason Green