Jason Beisinger scored the first five goals for the Fresno Monsters as the visitors doubled the El Paso Rhinos, 8-4, in another physical game between two of the top teams in the Western States Hockey League.
There were a combined 112 penalty minutes served by players, including two fights. The atmosphere was so heated, Fresno coach Bryce Dale was given a game misconduct and thrown out late in the third period for verbally abusing the officials, despite the fact the scoring was done and his team was up by four goals.
Fresno certainly proved its mettle on the ice, as the Rhinos didn't find the net until the second period. Beisinger had already scored a natural hat trick by then, though, having given the Monsters a 3-0 lead at the end of the first frame.
Trey Hughes scored two goals to start the second period for El Paso and the hosts were a score away from tying the game, 3-2.
But Beisinger slammed the door shut and 6-5 goaltender Marcus Harbison held it there. The Rhinos committed two key penalties just over a minute apart, and the Fresno centerman scored on the ensuing two-man advantage, then added a shifty back-handed goal on a penalty shot to build the Monsters' advantage back to three goals at the end of 40 minutes, 5-2.
Again, El Paso scored the first goal of the next period, as defenseman Travis Oddy found the back of the net with Harbison screened on the play.
But again Fresno answered, scoring three goals to the Rhinos' one the rest of the way.
El Paso's win Thursday and the Monsters' win Friday sets the stage for the rubber match Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. MST. For tickets and information, contact the Rhinos' front office at 915/479.PUCK (7825) or go to www.elpasorhinos.com.