The El Paso Rhinos continued their red-hot streak, not only sweeping the Wichita Thunder, but holding them to zero point over the three game series.
In the first series of 2018, both teams hoped to earn three wins for a strong start to the new year.
Going into the series, Wichita had three wins and 24 losses in the first half of the season, earning them last place in Mid-Western Division. Conversely, the Rhinos, one game shy of having a perfect record in their first 30 games, sat at the top of the division.
The Rhinos will travel to Oklahoma City next weekend to face off against the Blazers, who are ranked second, behind the Rhinos, in the Mid-Western Division
Game 1, 8-0 W
In game one, the Rhino forward Adam Stalzer scored 14 seconds into the first period to give the Rhinos an early lead. The first period saw four more goals as Stalzer scored a second time and Jimmy Beirne, Cole Richardson and Logan Orem earned goals of their own. Wichita’s only two shots in the game also came in the first period, but Rhino goaltender Kayden Pickles stopped them both.
Nolan Haugen increased the Rhinos’ lead to six when he scored at 7:43 in the second period. New forward Maguire Blair, who arrived in the Sun City after the holiday break, earned his first goal as a Rhino when he netted the last two points of the game. With a score of 8-0, El Paso finished the game with three power play goals, for a power play percentage of 50 percent, and one shorthanded goal.
Game 2, 15-0 W
Eleven different Rhinos had points in the Rhinos’ 15-0 win over the Thunder on Saturday. Ty Erramouspe and Maguire Blair both had hat tricks and assists while Phil Pugliese and Nolan Haugen each had a pair of goals as well. Austin Boyle, Adam Stalzer, Leeam Tivers, and Austin Simpson each had a multi-point game, helping lead the Rhinos to a two-game lead in the series.
In goaltender Trevor Buckmeier’s first start of his Rhino career, he stopped all seven shots he faced and earned his first shutout of the season. While Buckemeier and the Rhinos’ penalty kill remained perfect and even netted a shorthanded goal, El Paso’s power play percentage was 29 percent with two goals on seven opportunities.
Game 3, 9-0 W
On Sunday, the Rhinos swept the Thunder after blanking Wichita for the third time. While seventeen different Rhinos contributed to the nine points scored, the team posted nearly 100 shots. Forwards Phil Pugliese and Leeam Tivers each had two goals and Tom Kuebler, Carlo Wittor, Adam Stalzer, Austin Simpson as well as Ty Erramouspe earned their own goals throughout the game. As in both previous games, El Paso posted two power play goals and one shorthanded goal.
With the shutout, goaltender Filip Krasanovsky picked up his seventh perfect game of the season. He also picked up a helper on one of Tivers’ goals.