01/24/2009 9:11 AM -
The Rhinos had already wrapped up their third straight Mid-West Division regular-season title, which earns them home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs, but managed to play with intensity throughout the game.
Swedish forward Andreas Bengtsson started the scoring on the power play with his first goal in El Paso at 8:38 of the first period.
That would suffice for the rest of the period, but the Rhinos came out with guns blazing, scoring three goals in under four minutes to start the second frame.
Eric LaBounty, Austin Balko and Trevor Erickson short-handed gave El Paso a quick 4-0 lead; then Balko, Nick Gorup and T.J. Burger made it 7-0 by the end of the second.
Casey Lutz and Kevin Davis rounded out the scoring in the third period to give the Rhinos their 37th win.
El Paso is 37-3-1 with 75 points – the best record in the Western States Hockey League. The Renegades drop to 12-24-0, and their 24 points keeps them in the fifth place – one spot out of the Mid-West Division playoffs.
Colorado currently holds the fourth spot, while San Antonio leads Tulsa for second place and home ice in the first round.
The Rhinos and Texas will skate twice more on the weekend – Saturday at 7:30 p.m. MST and Sunday at 5:30 p.m. MST.
For tickets and information, contact the Rhinos front office at 915.479.PUCK (7825) or log onto the website at www.elpasorhinos.com.