12/21/2012 10:09 AM -
The El Paso Rhinos got scoring from five different players and ran their Western States Hockey League Showcase record to 3-0, thoroughly defeating the Ontario Avalanche, 5-1.
After narrow escapes in El Paso's first two games at the Las Vegas showcase, head coach Cory Herman was happy to see his team show up.
"Very good effort," said Herman. "They played to their strengths and it was playoff, Boston Bruin-style, physical hockey.
Defenseman Chris Wilhite opened the scoring at 20:05 of the first period (teams play two 25-minute periods at the showcase for time consideration), and hard-working forward John Morales scored at 24:34 to give the Rhinos a 2-0 lead at the intermission.
Ontario's Sean Reynolds scored just 23 seconds into the second period to halve the El Paso lead, but the Rhinos' Aaron Rasmussen answered, scoring exactly 1:15 later, followed three minutes after that by Luke Dotto on a power play.
Austin Hoff rounded out the scoring at 14:09.
El Paso outshot the Avalanche, 40-30, in the game and goaltender Austin Brihn stopped 29 shots as the Rhinos improve to 20-3-1. El Paso's 41 points tops the WSHL's Mountain Conference by 13 over second place Boulder.
"It was a great effort by all 20 guys," said Herman of Thursday's game. "We need the same effort (Friday) afternoon."
The Rhinos play a Fresno Monsters team that will be determined not to leave the showcase with an under .500 record. After beating Boulder in its first game in Las Vegas, Fresno (18-2-0, 36 points) has dropped two straight.
El Paso plays the Monsters at 3:45 p.m. MST, then will break for the Holidays before heading for Cheyenne, WY, for a three-game series against the Stampede, Jan. 11-13, 2013.
For stats and information, go to www.elpasorhinos.com, or download the Rhinos app for your Android or Apple smartphone or tablet device.=