Matt Tritsch and Tyler Beasley both had hat tricks and the El Paso Rhinos gave those fans who showed up for free tickets a roller-coaster ride they won’t soon forget, sweeping the Texas Brahmas with an 8-5 win Tuesday night, edging close to first place in their division.
It started much like Monday night’s 2-1 Rhinos win, but a 10-goal second period changed that.
The Brahmas looked to be the better team in the early going, as Ryan Pittman scored the first goal at 10:40 of the first on a very effective power play.
The visitors also scored again a mere 3:29 into the second frame as Nick O’Donnell powered his shot past El Paso goaltender Trent Casper.
Perhaps the second goal changed something for the hosts. Regardless, the Rhinos rattled off six goals in a span of just 7:06, the fifth goal leaving Fort Worth’s starting goaltender, Anton Olsson, so frustrated he snapped his stick over his unresponsive goal posts and took himself out of the game.
A pair of Tritsch goals started the avalanche, followed by a pair from the Western States Hockey League’s leading scorer, Beasley (35g, 38a).
Vinnie Bohn’s deflection goal off a short pass from Garrett Poland made it 5-0 and chased Olsson at 11:03, followed by a goal from Mike Fazio exactly 12 seconds later, scored on the power play caused by Olsson’s hysterics and subsequent Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty.
But, despite the barrage, the Brahmas coolly worked their way back into the game, as Nick O’Donnell scored his second straight on a 5-on-3 power play, followed 51 seconds later by brother Kevin O’Donnell, also on the power play. The Brahmas went 3-for-5 on the man advantage in the game.
Then, Texas’ Kevin O’Donnell scored again at 17:22, and suddenly a four-goal El Paso lead had been trimmed to one by the end of the period.
But the Rhinos were the only team to score in the third, as Tritsch and Beasley earned their hat tricks, ensuring the Rhinos of a series sweep.
El Paso (26-9-2, 54 points) is now just two points behind Mid-West Division-leading Boulder, distancing themselves from the Brahmas (22-17-4, 48 points) after entering the series tied with their Metroplex rivals.
The Rhinos will rest a couple of days, then begin a home series against the New Mexico Renegades Friday, Feb. 11, through Sunday, Feb. 13. For tickets and more information, contact the El Paso Rhinos front office at 915/479.PUCK (7825) or go to www.elpasorhinos.com.