The Rhinos, sitting atop the Midwestern Division, faced off against the Provincial's Division's top team, the Edson Aeros, for the first time in franchise history and for both teams' first game of the Western States Shootout.
Edson's offense had a strong start to the game when forward Emil Johansson scored only a minute and ten seconds into the first period. The Aeros netted a power play goal before scoring again to take a 3-0 nothing lead with just under five minutes remaining in the first 25-minute period. With only two minutes before the first and only intermission, Ty Erramouspe, with the help of Adam Stalzer and Max Kamper, finally put the Rhinos on the scoresheet and cut the Aero's lead to two. Despite facing 26 shots on goal in the first period, Aero goaltender Liam Austin only allowed a single goal.
Edson came out of the locker room with momentum and took back their three-goal lead only two minutes and 45 seconds into the final period. Less than two minutes later, however, the Kamper, Stalzer, Erramouspe trio again cut the Rhinos' deficit back to two when Kamper found the back of the net. Cue the Rhinos' string of seven unanswered goals. At 17:47, El Paso defenseman JC Dubecky made it a one-goal game when he slipped one past Austin. Within only three minutes and 29 seconds of Dubecky's goal, Erramouspe (2) and Sam Robinson had also scored to give El Paso a 5-4 lead, their first lead of the game. Wickham, Manchester, and Dubecky (2) scored the final three goals, making the Rhinos the 8-4 winners in their first Showcase game.
While the Rhinos overcame a three-goal deficit to claim the win, they also won in the shot column, tallying a whopping 56 shots on goal in 50 minutes. They allowed two goals while on the penalty kill and only earned one power play goal on 7 chances.
Their second game will be a Thorne Cup Finals rematch against the Ogden Mustangs at 1:45 (MT) on Wednesday, Dec. 19.