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Blazers Edge Rhinos, 5-4

03/01/2015 6:42 PM -
(EL PASO, TX) — Kole Hudson scored twice in the third period, including the game-winner, and the Oklahoma City Blazers earned their third victory over the El Paso Rhinos this season with a 5-4 win in the Events Center Saturday night.
 
The Blazers (34-11-0-0, 68 points) sit second behind the Rhinos (40-5-0-0, 80 points) in the WSHL’s Midwest Division, but the two teams are using this final series of the regular season to send a message that will resonate through the playoffs. 
 
After a 3-2 El Paso win Friday night, it was the Blazers who returned the favor Saturday, setting up what promises to be an eventful rubber match Sunday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. MST.
 
Oklahoma City ran away from the Rhinos to take a 2-0 lead in the first period. Ivan Bukshevannyy notched a power play goal at 6:49, followed just 1:11 later by Viktor Ekk.
 
El Paso got one back before the end of the frame as Sebastian Borg’s pass-out from the right corner found Jordan Cullum who walked in to beat OKC goaltender Jakub Krejci at 13:10
 
But the hosts weren’t done, scoring the next two goals just 20 seconds apart to take a 3-2 lead into the second intermission. 
 
Jonah Pearson put Marek Langhammer's pass-out over Krejci’s left shoulder to tie the game at 5:41, followed by Kendall Craig’s seeing-eye strike from the left circle at 6:01 to give El Paso the lead.
 
However, the Blazers roared back to life in the third period scoring three unanswered goals of their own. Johan Sorkin scored at 3:22 to tie the game. Then, Oklahoma native son Kole Hudson put home a rebound at 6:25, followed by the game-winner, five-holing Rhinos’ goalie Adam Vay at 10:07.
 
El Paso mounted a game challenge in the final minutes. Having pulled Vay for the extra attacker, Jiri Pestuka scored his team-leading 40th goal for the Rhinos at 19:34; but it was too little, too late for the Rhinos.
 
El Paso's loss also assures that the Idaho Junior Steelheads (41-2-1-1, 84 points) will have home ice advantage throughout the Thorne Cup Playoffs, which will start next weekend. 
 
El Paso and Oklahoma City have each earned a bye in the first round and will host first round winners in best-of-three series the weekend ofMarch 13-15. But first, the teams will face off once more Sunday afternoon at the Events Center to wrap up the regular season.
 
Every Sunday home game features $1 hot dogs at the Events Center along with other food specials. For tickets and information, contact the Rhinos’ front office at 915/479.PUCK (7825), or go to www.elpasorhinos.com.
 
Sunday’s game can also be viewed via America One Sports through a link at the team’s website.