Connor Beaudet scored a hat trick and assisted on two more goals as the El Paso Rhinos doubled up the Dallas Snipers, 6-3, in front of a near-sellout crowd at the El Paso County Events Center Sunday afternoon.
Once again, the Rhinos were forced to play from behind as Dallas defenseman Daniel Nordlander scored his third goal of the weekend just1:03 into the game.
But with 1:04 left in the first, Beaudet won a draw against Zach Black at left circle, pushed his way past Black and roofed his shot from just outside the crease over Brady Weiss’ left shoulder to tie the game on the power play.
Brennan Johnson’s power play blast from the blue line was tipped by Robert Fogarty at 2:12 of the second frame to give the hosts a 2-1 lead, which lasted most of the period. But a wild finish saw Dallas and El Paso trade four goals over the final six minutes, including two with less than a minute to play.
The Snipers equalized on Michael Tugo’s beautiful top shelf strike at 14:04. The Rhinos answered at 16:54 on Beaudet’s unassisted effort to make it 3-2, but Dallas’ Peter Kutlak scored a goal nearly identical to Tugo’s at 19:20 to tie the game again.
However, Petr Ceslik gave El Paso the final say, as the Czech forward scored what proved to be the game-winning goal with just 14 seconds left to give the home team a 4-3 advantage going into the final period.
In the third, the Rhinos gave themselves a cushion as Ceslik scored again. Losing his marker just inside the blue line, Ceslik had room to pick his spot and drove his shot just over Weiss’ glove at 9:49, followed by Beaudet’s hat trick goal at 18:08.
El Paso improves to 6-11-0-1, dropping the Snipers to 10-13-0-1. The Rhinos’ 13 points puts them within eight points of fifth place Dallas headed into the second half of its six-game homestand against the Tulsa Junior Oilers next weekend.
For tickets and information, contact the Rhinos’ front office at 915/479.PUCK (7825), or go to www.elpasorhinos.com. El Paso and Tulsa face off at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 11 and 12, and at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13.