Goalie Alex Paulumbo stopped all 20 Cheyenne shots and the El Paso Rhinos blanked the Cheyenne Stampede, 4-0, Saturday night.
It was a back-and-forth affair in the early going as the Stampede changed strategy after Friday night's 4-2 El Paso win, electing to slow the Rhinos' attack in the neutral zone rather than collapse on them in their defensive end.
The tactic worked for much of the period until David Nelson intercepted a puck near the El Paso blue line then dished a perfect saucer pass to Tyler Basham, who flicked the puck over Cheyenne goalie Sam Mallory's skate for the goal with exactly 1:00 left in the opening period.
After losing its head and giving up the lead in the second period of Friday's game, El Paso kept it in the second 20 minutes Saturday. John Ludwig made it 2-0 with a power play goal at 11:28; then, after a line brawl stopped play for nearly 10 minutes while the penalties were sorted out, John Morales scored at 18:52 to take a 3-0 lead.
Team captain and native El Pasoan Mike Rivera scored a short-handed empty-net goal at 17:57 of the third. It is the 30th short-handed goal of the season for the Rhinos, who lead the Western States Hockey League by 21.
El Paso (28-6-2, 58 points) improves its lead over the Stampede (21-10-1, 43 points) in the WSHL's Mountain Conference to 15 points.
The two teams will play once more Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m. MST. For tickets and information, contact the Rhinos' front office at 915/479.PUCK (7825). The game will also be broadcast live on 600 ESPN El Paso.=