Rhinos Overwhelm the Renegades
Playing in front of sold out crowd both nights, the Rhinos rolled over the Renegades as they added to their perfect record.
On Friday, Tom Bartel extended his seven game point streak when he scored the first goal of the game only 57 seconds after puck drop. This first point started a scoring frenzy. A little over forty seconds later, Bartel set up Dakota Beaulieu who got his first of the night. Less than three minutes apart, Kendal Craig and Matthew Plesa increased El Paso’s lead to four. Tom Bartel, after his assist on Trey Hughes’s goal, earned his second of the night with an unassisted goal three minutes before the end of the period. In only sixteen shots in the first period, the Rhinos had a six point lead entering the second.
Ten minutes in, the Plesa line continued the Rhinos’ offensive dominance when Peter received a crisp pass from older brother Matthew and buried in the back of the net. For the first time of the game, the Renegades responded with Zach Comfort’s powerplay goal which would become New Mexico’s only point of the night. Only fifteen seconds later the Rhinos increased the deficit when Hughes picked up his second goal of the night. Not long after Hughes’s goal, three Rhinos and five renegades received minors and two Rhinos received double minors for roughing.
After sorting out the penalties, the Rhinos wasted no time in their return to scoring, even with a fresh goalie in net. Lucas Dickison and Halen Sampson, not having seen ice time since their first series with the Rhinos in early October, scored the Rhinos’ ninth goal of the game. Formerly with the Quad City Jr. Flames, the Dickison closed the game with another goal only four minutes into the third period.
El Paso’s defense with backup goaltender Isaak Tjaden at the helm was nearly perfect. Tjaden stopped 25 shots and the penalty kill unit allowed the only goal despite seven one man advantages for the Renegades.
The series culminated with intensity during the second and final game of the series. Starting the game, Ryan Buttazzoni allowed the first goal of the game just over eight minutes into the first period. Jack Strusz quickly evened the game’s score with a powerplay goal as New Mexico’s Ryan Meyer sat for slashing. Soon thereafter, Halen Sampson earned the Rhinos the lead with his powerplay goal. Kendal Craig then buried a short handed 10 foot wrist shot only 40 seconds before the end of the period,.
The Renegades started the second period on the powerplay but with a well-rested Chris Wilhite just out the penalty box, the Rhinos were bound to score. Wilhite received a pass from Jack Strusz and funneled it to Chad Cesarz who slipped it past Renegades netminder Brendan Hanser, making the score four to one. Just before the six minute mark, New Mexico’s Wesley Callens is called for charging before he and Jeremy Rezaeepour slugged it out. Both received five minute fighting majors and Wallen’s two minute charging minor left the Renegades short handed, but in spite of the one man advantage, the Renegades managed to notch their second tally of the game.
After New Mexico’s second goal, Buttazzoni was replaced with Tjaden just before both sides of the ice heated up as three Rhinos and three Renegades received five minute fighting majors. Rezaeepour and Craig then rounded out the period when each earned a goal of their own.
During the middle of the third period, David Nelson launched one past Hanser and five minutes later Brandon Edson followed suit and earned a goal of his own, making the final score eight to two.
El Paso’s defense thwarted New Mexico’s offense. Throughout the entire game, the Renegades only managed 13 shots while the Rhinos’ offense launched 51 shots. Both teams had five powerplay opportunities and the Rhinos were able to capitalize on two and were also able to successfully kill all five penalties.
Hoping to improve their winning record to 12, the Rhinos will play the Texas Brahmas in their third home series on November 22.