03.18.16 – Oklahoma City 10, El Paso 2
03.19.16 – Oklahoma City 3, El Paso 2 (2 OT)
(Oklahoma City defeats El Paso, 2 games to 0)
A passing of the torch took place in the Mid-West Division this weekend in Oklahoma City. After running away with the division regular season title, breaking El Paso’s nine-year streak in the process, the Blazers eliminated the Rhinos head-to-head in two playoff games.
Ivan Bondarenko (3-3-6) and Kirill Romanov (2-3-5) led the way for OKC in a 10-2 win in Game 1. Kyle Cagnoni also collected three assists for the Blazers and Filip Kostka made 28 saves.
Gustav Larsson and Kristers Bormanis scored for El Paso, drawing assists on each other’s goals.
The Rhinos did not go quietly on Game 2 on Saturday, scoring 2:08 into the game, building a two-goal lead in the second period, and leading into the final minute of the third period.
But the Rhinos could not close the game out to force a third and deciding game. Bondarenko cut the El Paso lead in half at 12:04 of the third period and Adam Skutchan scored with 28 seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime.
The Blazers out-shot El Paso 20-5 in overtime, but it wasn’t until Tomas Rubes scored 2:27 into the second overtime that OKC ended the Rhinos’ season. It was the first time in their 10-year history that the Rhinos were knocked out prior to the division final.
Brendan Cytulik pout in a heroic effort for El Paso, making 54 saves – including 19 on overtime.
Kostka, a 29-game winner in the regular season, made 27 saves for the Blazers to earn his second post-season win.