Watch The Rhinos Fight Their Way to a Clean Sweep of the Ice Jets
Rhinos forward Tom Bartel scored the game-winning goal at 15:26 of the first period and goalie Bryce Fink stopped 32 of 33 as El Paso finished off a hard-fought three-game sweep of the Dallas Ice Jets with a 7-1 win Sunday evening.
The Rhinos (38-2-0-0, 76 points) survived and thrived despite being whistled for 21 penalties, including a game misconduct issued to defenseman Nick Wright.
El Paso will miss Wright and possibly goaltender Adam Vay -- and their roster spots -- for at least one of their games at Tulsa next weekend. Vay was issued a match penalty in Saturday night's 4-2 Rhinos win for punching a player with his blocker pad.
The Ice Jets (23-14-1-2, 49 points) were whistled for 20 penalties, also, but the special teams stats clearly favored the hosts. El Paso finished two-for-13 on the power play while the Rhinos penalty kill only allowed one Dallas power play goal in 18 opportunities.
In addition, El Paso notched its WSHL record 36th shorthanded goal of the season on defenseman Roman Konecny's marker at 15:39 of the second period.
The Rhinos continue breaking their own record of 29 shorthanded goals set last season.
Peter Plesa scored the opening goal unassisted at 8:37 of the first period, followed by Bartel's one-time game-winner on the power play at 15:26.
Matthew Plesa made it 3-0 at 11:30 of the second period, then Konecny, before Chris Schutz drew one back on the power play for the visitors at 18:24 of the second.
But Jiri Pestuka scored two goals in the third period at 5:36 and 16:34, and defenseman Jack Strusz ripped in a shot from the blue line to wrap the scoring exactly 30 seconds later.
After traveling to Tulsa next weekend, the Rhinos return home in two weeks for the final regular season series against the Dallas Snipers.
A recent pick-up from the Seattle Totems, Fink continues to impress. After backing a porous defense in Seattle, Fink's goals-against has plummeted (3.84) as his saves percentage has risen (91.6%) as the stopper for a defense that has allowed only 81 goals all season, second-best in the WSHL by one goal to the Idaho Junior Steelheads.
No other team in the league has allowed fewer than 109 goals.
Wrapping up its eighth-consecutive regular season division title in eight seasons, El Paso has secured home ice advantage through the Thorne Cup Playoffs for as long as it can keep playing.
For tickets and information, contact the Rhinos front office at 915/479.PUCK (7825), or go to www.elpasorhinos.com.