This past weekend, the Rhinos traveled to California to take on the Valencia Flyers on Thursday and Friday, and the Ontario Avalanche on Saturday.
Less than four minutes into Thursday’s game, Adam Stalzer, with the help of Max Kamper and Ty Erramouspe, put the Rhinos on the board. Ten minutes later, Jonas Burman rounded out the first period’s scoring with a goal of his own. Valencia forward Tristan Warr cut the Rhinos’ lead to one but shortly thereafter, Eric Easterson’s second period goal gave the Rhinos back their two-point lead. Ty Erramouspe earned his second point of the night, making the final score 4-1, by netting one with only 48 seconds left in the third period.
Saturday’s game started with the Rhinos scoring four unanswered goals on the Flyers. Martin Dubsky’s first two goals were then followed by second period goals by Dillon Manchester and Adam Stalzer. Flyer Danylo Moroz prevented the shutout when he slid one past Rhino netminder Nils Velm just under the five-minute mark of the second period. El Paso defenseman JC Dubecky earned the last point of the night, allowing the Rhinos to win 5-1, and sweep Valencia in the two-game series.
After traveling about an hour and a half from Valencia to Ontario, the Rhinos faced off against the Ontario Avalanche in a single game on Saturday night. El Paso held Ontario scoreless through the first two periods and posted five goals. Jonas Burman had a pair of goals while Dominic Erdt, Dillon Manchester, and Adam Stalzer all got in on the scoring action during the first forty minutes of play. With only 5:39 left in regulation, Nils Velm allowed Valencia’s first goal. Manchester and Erramouspe both scored again before Valencia’s Liam Massie gave the Flyers another point on the scoresheet. The 7-2 final score included four Rhino power play goals on five penalties assessed to Valencia.
With the Rhinos’ three wins and the Oklahoma City Blazers’ loss to the Northern Colorado Eagles, the Rhinos moved back into the Midwestern Davison’s top spot. El Paso’s lead is not insurmountable by any means; the Blazers are only one point off first place.
The Rhinos will wrap up 2018 in Las Vegas at the Western States Shootout. They are slated for games against the Edson Aeros and the Bellingham Blazers on Tuesday and Thursday. On Wednesday, they will face off against the Ogden Mustangs in a Thorne Cup championship rematch. After a break for the holidays, El Paso will then go on the road to Oklahoma City and Wichita, Kansas before returning to home on ice for the January 25, 26, and 27 series.