02.05.16 – El Paso 6, Tulsa 3
02.06.16 – Tulsa 3, El Paso 2
02.07.16 – El Paso 6, Tulsa 5
The El Paso Rhinos have been trying for a while to claw their way out of the Mid-West Division basement and they finally gained some traction this weekend, winning two of three games in Tulsa to pass Dallas and tie the Jr. Oilers for fourth place in the division. The Rhinos have six games in hand on Tulsa, giving them the inside track on a top-four spot and home ice for the first round of the playoffs.
Tulsa battled back from a 3-0 deficit to get within a goal at the second intermission Friday, but El Paso scored three times in a span of 3:15 late in the third period for a 6-3 win.
Ryan Buttazoni made 30 saves, protecting that one-goal lead until the Rhinos could break the game open late.
Jakub Husa scored twice for El Paso and Connor Beaudet had a pair of assists.
Steven Schapiro’s goal with 43 seconds left in the second period ended up being the game-winner in a 3-2 Jr. Oilers win on Saturday.
Anthony Podder and Hunter Best assisted on all three Tulsa goals and Philip Babb made 34 saves on 36 shots.
Benjamin Dennis was between the pipes for the Rhinos and made 31 saves.
The Rhinos led, 6-1 after two periods on Sunday, but the Jr. Oilers did not go quietly, scoring three times in the final 1:46 of the game to get within a goal, but falling short, 6-5.
Gustav Larsson had a hat trick and Beaudet added three more assists for El Paso.
Tulsa’s Augusts Veidenbaums scored with 1:46 and :39 left in regulation, but the Jr. Oilers could not get the equalizer past Buttazoni (33 saves).
The Rhinos return home this weekend when they take on the San Diego Sabers. On Friday and Saturday, the puck drops at 7:30. The series resumes for game three on Sunday at 4:30.