Thanks to 3 unanswered goals sunk the Ice Jets at Polar Ice House in Grapevine 4-3 last night, the Rhinos were able to eat into the Ice Jets lead in the Mid-West Division from 7 to 5 points as the two teams will meet again tonight at 6:00 PM at Polar Ice House.
The game started with the Ice Jets looking to control things early as they were able to get some early shots on goal, but with some so-so scoring chances as they were out-shooting the Rhinos 6-1 in the 1st 5 minutes plus, but the Rhinos defense did a good job of protecting goalie Trent Caspar from the Ice Jets being able to get some dangerous scoring chances in front of the net.
What also hampered the Ice Jets early efforts was that despite the Rhinos committing 6 penalties in the 1st period, but couldn't take advantage on any of their Power Play Chances, including an opportunity where after the Rhinos scored to make it 1-0 thanks to an original shot by a shot from Matthew Tritsch that was saved by Ice Jets Goalie Michael Baldwin, but Riveria crashed the net to make it a 1-0 Rhinos lead with 5:03 left.
However, just after the Riveria goal, a scrum erupted behind the net that lead to Rhinos penalties against Matthew Tritsch for Unsportsmanlike Conduct & a Craig Hanisch for a Facemask Penalty, that lead to a 5-on-3 for two minutes that the Ice Jets couldn't convert. With just 19.4 Seconds left in the 1st period, Grant Williams scores his 1st goal as an Ice Jet which would launch his game where he had a strong debut performance with 3 points (2G 1A) and a minor penalty as well. His 1st goal came from Greg Sauers & Christian Elsborg to go into the 1st intermission tied at 1-1.
The 2nd period started with the Ice Jets looking sharper & quicker then anytime during the 1st period with Grant Williams scoring his 2nd of the night just 1:06 into the 2nd period from Dan Hudson with his 13th assist of the season which is currently tied for 2nd on the team as well. After that goal, the Ice Jets Physicality took over to ware down the Rhinos for most of the 2nd period and the Ice Jets allowed to control every aspect of the early portion of the 2nd period.
Despite an Ice Jets Penalty against Joseph Matyaszek at 8:33 for boarding, the Penalty Kill did a good job killing off the penalty and it lead to a 2-on-1 lead by Grant Williams & Brandon Unser which became a 3-on-1 that Austin Rehwinkel later joined in to get a pass from Williams to snap the shot past Caspar to make it a 3-1 lead at 9:19 of the 2nd period.
Just 5 minutes later, a fight with Joesph Matyaszek that was involved with seemed to give the Rhinos their life back late in the 2nd period that lead to Michael Riveria's 2nd goal on the power play that was passed by Tobias Pehrson that lead by Riveria's Booming One Timer Slap Shot from the faceoff circle to make it 3-2 with 2 minutes left in the 2nd period. Even though the Ice Jets were up 3-2, Riveria's goal have given the Rhinos new life going into the 2nd intermission 3-2 in favor of the Ice Jets.
Huge chunks of the 3rd period were controlled by the Rhinos as they were looking to build off the late goal by Riveria that had the Ice Jets scrambling early in the 3rd period and the Rhinos at one point were out-shooting the Ice Jets 9-2 early on in the 3rd period.
It eventually lead to Rhinos goals just 1:53 apart in the 3rd period when Matthew Tritsch scored his 12th goal of the season at 7:44 assisted by Michael Riveria who notched his 3rd point of the game as he now leads his team with 37 points (15G 22A) in 25 games played this season. Also Chris Wilhite who started the scoring chance with a great pass cross ice pass to set up Tritsch & Riveria. Then Tyler Basham just before the midway point of the 3rd period gave the Rhinos their 1st lead since Riveria's 1st goal of the night to make it 4-3.
Those goals once again had the Ice Jets scrambling and had a difficult time getting Goaltender Michael Baldwin pulled in the final 90 seconds of regulation, after finally being able to get the extra man with just under 30 seconds to go. The best opportunity came with just 19 seconds to go with a faceoff in the right hand Circle, but couldn't get a strong opportunity built to challenge Caspar to force OT and takes a 4-3 loss in the 1st game of the 3 game series against El Paso.
Rhinos Goaltender ups his record to 8-5-0 by making 31 of 34 shots, while Ice Jets Goalie Michael Baldwin makes 34 of 38 saves on the night to take his record to 12-4-2 so far this season.
The Ice Jets & Rhinos have two more games at Polar Ice this weekend, Saturday's Start Time is at 6:00 PM, while the game on Sunday gets underway at 1:00 PM.
In other action across the WSHL last night, the Dallas Snipers fall to a league worst 3-27-0 with a 10-5 loss. This loss takes them to giving up double digit goals for the 5th time this season. However Snipers forwards Shane Bonds & Justin Becton each had a goal and two assists last night in the loss.
Also the Boulder Bison crushed the Cheyenne Stampede 9-0 with 4 point nights from Chris Guidotti, Ryan Gauthier & Patrick Grace. Finally the Valenica Flyers shutout the Ogden Mustangs 2-0 with a 26 save shutout performance from Stephen Palmer as well as goals coming from Greg Heimann & Hunter Jensen.