So, if three goals is a hat trick and four goals is a Texas hat trick, what is a five-goal game called?
How about “spectacular”?
Chaseton Sare etched his name in the Rhinos’ ample record book Sunday, scoring all five El Paso goals as the Rhinos came from behind to sweep the Springfield Express, 5-1.
Oklahoma City’s loss earlier in the day meant the WSHL’s Mid-West Division title returns to the Sun City after a year’s absence. But even with little to play for in terms of the standings, the game still held meaning for the hosts as they finished their regular season home schedule with a flourish for a sell-out crowd of over 2,000 at the El Paso County Events Center.
Express forward Hunter Lovdokken gave the visitors the lead 11:16 into the game, but that would be all for Springfield as Rhinos’ goalie Tymen Edelkoort III stopped 34 of 35 Express shots on the night.
Edelkoort set records of his own Sunday, vaulting past former Rhino and Minnesota Wild prospect Adam Vay, having made 820 saves on the season so far. If Edelkoort can maintain his stellar 93.6% saves percentage, he’ll have topped Vay in that department, too.
But Sunday night belonged to Sare.
The Regina, SK, native scored to tie the game 1:12 into the second period, then notched the game-winner with El Paso a man down on a botched two-line pass attempt from Springfield.
Rhinos’ defenseman Brody Surette collected the missed Express pass and sent a two-line bomb of his own to Jesse Vuorinen for a two-on-none breakaway on hapless Springfield goalie Bailey Stephens. Vuorinen shoveled the puck to Sare who deposited it past Stephens with 49 seconds left in the period.
Consistent pressure on the forecheck led to Sare’s next two goals, scored just 24 seconds apart in the third frame.
Sare and Vuorinen walked in on Stephens again and Sare popped the puck over Stephens’ right shoulder at 11:46, followed by a missed Springfield clearance that Sare cracked in from the left circle unassisted at 12:10.
As Springfield pulled out the stops and the goalie to claw back into the game, Sare capped the win with a short-handed empty-net goal at 13:45.
The 5-11 forward now has the second-most goals for a Rhino in a season with 48, and with his 58 assists and 108 points, has now supplanted Matt Plesa’s record of 102 points in a season.
Springfield’s loss means the Express will finish the regular season in third place in the Mid-West Division. The OKC Blazers, who also finished their regular season Sunday, will be the second seed in the Mid-West and, along with the Rhinos, receives a bye in the opening round of the Thorne Cup playoffs.
El Paso will travel to Wichita, KS, next weekend to wrap up the regular season with three games against the Mid-West’s fourth place team, the Junior Thunder.
The Rhinos division crown also means they will have home-ice advantage throughout the divisional round of the Thorne Cup Playoffs. The team is selling playoff tickets for the best-of-three divisional semifinals, March 24-26, at the Events Center.
Call the Rhinos’ front office at 915.479.PUCK (7825) or go to www.elpasorhinos.com for tickets and information.
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