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02/26/2011 11:45 AM -
Centerman Matt Tritsch scored three of the El Paso Rhinos four goals as the Rhinos fended off a furious Boulder rally to win, 4-3.
El Paso earned some breathing room, improving to 32-10-2 for 66 points, three points clear of the Bison (30-11-3, 63 points) for first place in the Mid-West Division, and for the home ice advantage in the playoffs that comes with it.
Tritsch opened the scoring in the first period with a point-blank strike that beat Boulder goalie Zane Sampson at the end of a power play.
Dustin Simmons equalized for Boulder just over a minute later, but defenseman Chris Wilhite finished a hard-work shift by El Paso's checking line by one-timing a pass-out by Ben Henne for a 2-1 lead at first intermission.
Again Boulder would equalize, but Tritsch got the go-ahead goal after winning a draw and slapping a bouncing puck past an unsuspecting Sampson at 5:14 of the second.
Tritsch then scored the game-winner on a short-handed breakaway, taking a two-line pass from linemate Nick Fazio and to beat Sampson with a wrist shot at 5:41 of the third.
El Paso needs one more win in its two remaining games against Boulder to secure home ice advantage throughout the WSHL's Thorne Cup playoffs.
Saturday's game is at 7:30 pm MST and Sunday's game starts at 5:30 pm.
For tickets and information, contact the Rhinos front office at 915/479.PUCK or go to http://elpasorhinos.com.