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01/14/2019 5:03 PM -
Heading into the series, the Oklahoma City Blazers had two wins over the Rhinos during the first half of the season. The Rhinos, eager to settle the score, got off to a strong start in the series.
With only 1:49 left in Friday’s first period, Max Kamper scored the Rhinos’ first goal. Oscar Andersson gave the Rhinos a two-goal lead before Oklahoma City’s Tobias Thorner cut that lead back to one. El Paso forward Martin Dubsky closed the second period with another goal, again securing that two-goal lead. The Blazers made one last attempt at a comeback when Vitalii Mikhailov slipped one past Rhino netminder Nils Velm just over the five-minute mark of the third period. The Rhinos went on to secure their 5-2 win with two final goals by Dillon Manchester and Martin Dubsky. Despite the usually intense play that characterizes Rhino-Blazers games, both teams kept penalties to a minimum. El Paso had six penalty minutes on three penalties while the Blazers had four penalty minutes on only two penalties.
The Rhinos started off by scoring first, just as they did on Friday. Jacob Wickham, assisted by Dillon Manchester and Sam Sykes, slipped one past Blazer goaltender Bobby Cloutier with 12:03 left in the first period. Less than six minutes later, Oklahoma City defenseman Hunter Dougherty evened the game at one. Just before the halfway point of the second period, the Blazers scored the final goal of the game one the power play. A scoreless third period meant a 2-1 loss for the Rhinos. Although Cloutier faced 43 shots, he impressively made 42 saves on the Rhino offense.
In game three, JC Dubecky, once again, scored first for the Rhinos. Shortly thereafter, the Blazers answered back with three consecutive goals. Like a ping pong match, Burman, Alchin, and Garin each scored their own goals to give the Rhinos their one goal lead back. Just under the five-minute mark, however, Oklahoma City tied the game again to send it into overtime and after an overtime without a point, the Rhinos entered their second shootout of the season. Jonas Burman and Martin Dubsky both tallied goals while Nils Velm stopped all four of Oklahoma City’s shooters. The Rhinos picked up a 5-4 win and improved their regular season record to 21-7-2.
The Blazers will take the ice in Rhino Country on February 23, 23, and 24 for their last battle with the Rhinos in the regular season. This weekend, however, the Rhinos head to Wichita to face off against the Thunder. They’ll be back in the Sun City on Jan. 25, 26, and 27 for their first home series of 2019.