Rhinos forward Tyler Beasley earned a natural hat trick, scoring the first three goals of the game, and the El Paso Rhinos broke the tie for second place in the Western States Hockey League’s Mid-West Division, beating the Texas Brahmas, 9-4, early Sunday morning.
El Paso moves to 24-9-2 and the Rhinos’ 50 points jumps them out of their tie with the Brahmas (22-15-4, 48 points) for second place, giving them dibs on home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Beasley started the scoring just 1:47 into the game, then broke a 1-1 tie with a hard-work short-handed goal – a wrap-around strike that caught Brahmas netminder R.J. Heath by surprise at 11:27 of the first.
Beasley notched the hat-trick goal, taking Heath top shelf at 13:20.
Tyler Ridgedell completed a four-goal first frame, one-timing Garret Poland’s pass with a slapshot that popped Heath’s water bottle off the roof of the net.
El Paso outscored Texas, 4-3, in the second period as Gunner Bjorklund, Poland, new defenseman Juan Tellez and Todd Thomas all tallied.
Defenseman Tyler Benson continued his recent spate of games with a goal to round out the scoring at 3:55 of the third period.
Sunday’s game was the first of a three-game series that was supposed to start Thursday between the Brahmas and the Rhinos. The Brahmas, headquartered in Fort Worth, were unable to leave the Metroplex until Saturday due to the winter storm that affected both cities. The two teams will continue their battle for second place Monday and Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. MST.
For tickets and information, contact the Rhinos front office at 915/479.PUCK (7825) or go to www.elpasorhinos.com.