The Rhinos used a dominant puck possession lead by Rhinos lead by Travis Cornwell & Matthew Pietrzkowski with 2 goals each, as well as Dallas Szustak with 1G & 2A which included a critical SH Goal with just under 3 minutes left that iced the game to help the Rhinos win their 2nd straight game at the Polar Ice House in Grapevine and was able to continue to eat in to the Ice Jets Lead in the Mid-West Division Lead from 5 to 3 points as they are getting over a disappointing Showcase in Las Vegas just prior to Christmas.
Unlike the previous game where the Ice Jets came out firing, it was the Rhinos looking to get off a fast start where it was basically a roll reversal as the Rhinos were out-shooting the Ice Jets 10-2 at one point through the 1st 10 minutes of the game. Ice Jets Goaltender Thomas Scoggin wouldn't let it get away as as he made several superb saves to keep the game scoreless; and also got some help from his defense including a moment where the Ice Jets Defense who did a good job to prevent a great wrist shot in a strong position that Michael Riveria was looking to get the game's 1st goal.
Despite the Rhinos Possession domination, it was the Ice Jets Austin Rehwinkel shot on a great screen shot on the Power Play a Holding Penalty against Gunnar Bjorklund at 9:27 of the period. Greg Sauers got the assist on a long width of the ice pass to Rehwinkel to get the shot off to make it a 1-0 Ice Jets Lead.
Despite the lead, the Rhinos continued to dominate possession as the Rhinos continued to dominate the play by hitting everything in set and have done an extremely good job of pinning the Ice Jets Players along the boards forcing them to reduce the number of good passes they could get off, not just tonight, but over the course of the weekend series.
The 1st period with the Ice Jets leading 1-0, but it was clear who was playing better and who was carrying the momentum.
El Paso was looking to use their momentum advantage to finally get back on the board, but the Ice Jets were looking to make the Rhinos pay not being able to take advantage of their dominant possession with a great breakaway that Grant Williams & Christian Elsborg with a great breakaway that almost made it 2-0. Just a couple of minutes later Jefferson Wright made it 2-0 at 4:53 that was set up by David Dzumba on a 2-on-1 where a last minute pass had Trent Casper scrambling as he gave up the goal to put up a 2-0 lead.
A scrum happened at the 10:34 mark of the 2nd period, a scrum took place in center ice where Ice Jets Forwards Alex Deviller went for roughing & Joseph Matyaszek for Unsportsmanlike Conduct. the Ice Jets were put in a role reversal from where they were on Friday Night when they were unable to score on a 2 man advantage, tonight they were able to kill off a 2 Minute Penalty Kill.
Just when they thought they had the penalty killed and were in the clear, the Rhinos defense was able to keep the puck in the Ice Jets zone where Michael Riveria went on a solo breakaway to tie the game at 2-2 at 15:08 mark. That was just 5 seconds after the 2 Man Penalty Kill expired. That Rhinos Goal was where the Possession was finally able to make their Domination pay off.
With just under 30 seconds to go in the 2nd period, Travis Cornwell scored on the PP with just 7 seconds to go on Austin Rehwinkel's penalty for a delay of game. Szustak was the brains on the goal where sent a give and go to Cornwell in the Ice Jets Zone to give the Rhinos their 1st lead of the night at 3-2 just prior to the end of the period.
Early on in the 3rd period, the Ice Jets got off to a great start to the period when Sam Akins sent a shot off the goalpost and bounced off some traffic to make the game tied at 3-3 at the 3:27 mark of the 3rd period. The Goal was given to Dan Hudson, Jefferson Wright also had an assist on the play as he was one that helped set up the play with the initial pass.
The next several minutes made it a back-and-fourth game with both teams looking to push to get the lead in the 3rd period. One of the best opportunities for either side came when Riveria got a steal to get a dangerous shot from the faceoff circle that just missed going in near the right post and kept the game tied at 3-3.
After a Matthew Pietrzkyowski goal that made it 4-3, at 11:57 of the 3rd period. Dallas Szustak scored what turned out to be a critical goal on a shorthanded breakaway to make it 5-3 with 2:58 left in the game. It turned out to be an important goal because Dan Hudson scored his 2nd goal of the period from the edge of the of the faceoff circle near the boards from a very tough angle that went off a couple of Rhinos players to make it a 5-4 game with just under 2 minutes left in the game, just seconds later after the Ice Jets Pulled Casper with 1:15 left in the game where the Ice Jets Offensive Players just barraged Casper's net where it came just short of making it a tie hockey game.
However, the Ice Jets couldn't get another dangerous opportunity going for the final minute of the game. Then El Paso's Matthew Pietrzykowski stole the puck from the Ice Jets to send the an empty netter down the ice to clinch a 6-4 win for the Rhinos, his 2nd goal of the 3rd period. That win again eats into the Ice Jets lead from 5 to 3 points with back-to-back wins this weekend.
Both goalies had some strong showings with Ice Jets Goalie Thomas Scoggin stopped 40 of 45 shots in the loss to send his record to 8-2-1. While Rhinos Goalie Trent Casper won his 2nd game of the weekend stopped 32 of 36 shots in the win to improve his record to 9-5-0 this season.
The Final game of the series this weekend takes place at 1:00 PM tomorrow afternoon at Polar Ice House in Grapevine.