This past weekend, the Rhinos headed west for Ft. Collins, Colorado to face off against the Colorado Eagles. Going into the series, the Eagles were ranked first in the Mountain Division, having lost only two games.
Game 1, 4-3 W
With Colorado’s Anders Saarela’s goal early in the first, the Eagles were off to a great start. They were able to hold the Rhinos scoreless through the first twenty minutes. In the second period, however, the Rhinos took the lead by netting three consecutive goals in two minutes. Chaseton Sare scored twice and Ian McCollum also picked up a goal, giving the Rhinos a two-goal lead. Just under the two-minute mark of the second period, Colorado’s Sylas Kalyan found the back of the net and cut El Paso’s lead to one. Only 25 seconds later, Austin Simpson, with the help of Sare and Phil Pugliese, gave the Rhinos back their two-point lead. Although Colorado scored again before the midway mark of the third, the Rhinos held on to the lead and finished the game on top, 4-3.
Game 2, 6-0 W
On Saturday, El Paso blanked Colorado, with five different Rhinos contributing to the 6-0 final score. Tim Heffner tallied two goals while Chaseton Sare and Leeam Tivers netted one goal each. Carlo Wittor and Adam Stalzer both earned one goal and one assist while Phil Pugliese picked up two assists.
The Eagles had 63 penalty minutes on 18 penalties compared to the Rhinos’ 28 penalty minutes on 11 penalties. El Paso’s power play unit capitalized, scoring five of six goals while on the man advantage.
Rhino netminder Filip Krasanovsky stopped all of 33 shots and earned his fourth shutout of the season.
Game 3, 4-3 OT W
In game three, Colorado led the Rhinos by a single goal after two periods. The Eagles scored first but Chaseton Sare answered back with a power play goal. Blake Kauth closed the first period with a goal, giving the Eagles a one point lead that would last through the second period.
Early in the third, Colorado’s Sean McMahon increased the Eagles’ lead when he scored on a penalty shot that resulted from a tripping penalty called on Egor Sevriugen. The Rhinos’ leading scorer, Sare, cut the two-goal deficit to one when he scored on the two-man advantage. Three minutes later, Colby Haugen evened the score with another power play goal, sending the game into overtime. JC Dubecky then ended the game by scoring with only one minute and 13 seconds left in the first overtime, giving the Rhinos the OT 4-3 win.
The three losses forced the Eagles to drop to second place in their division. The Rhinos remain first in the Mid-Western Division, trailed by the Oklahoma City Blazers who have three fewer games played.
This week, the Rhinos will take on the Springfield Express for the second time this season. After sweeping Wichita, the Express are currently ranked third in the Midwestern. The Express have eight wins and only loss throughout nine away games. The puck drops at 7 pm on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday for the Thanksgiving week match up.