Rhinos forward Todd Thomas scored twice and El Paso scored five times over the last 40 minutes to break erase a 2-0 deficit, claiming a 5-2 win over the New Mexico Renegades and maintaining sole possession of first place in the Mid-West Division of the Western States Hockey League.
The Rhinos’ closest competition won Sunday, as the Boulder Bison beat Tulsa, 6-1, to avenge a pair of losses Friday and Saturday. But with the Rhinos’ sweep, El Paso keeps its two-point lead over the Bison.
For awhile Sunday, that lead was in doubt.
New Mexico’s Cody Miller and Craig Parry beat the Rhinos’ defense in transition to score a pair of goals past El Paso goaltender Ryan Rivera while building a wall around Renegades’ netminder Rett Vossler.
But Thomas’ skating finally broke the seal over New Mexico’s goal 1:50 into the second period, and Ben Henne bounced a rebound off of a diving Vossler just 1:13 later for the tie.
The Rhinos would shave over a minute off their time between scores for goals three and four, though. A mere nine seconds separated Tyler Ridgedell’s game-winner at 13:27 and Tyler Beasley’s league-leading 40th goal at 13:36 in the third frame.
Thomas added his brace with 57 seconds left.
El Paso will now head to Tulsa to face the Rampage next weekend before closing out the regular season against the Bison in El Paso. For tickets and information, contact the Rhinos front office at 915/479.PUCK (7825) or go to www.elpasorhinos.com.