Blazers Hand Rhinos First Loss, 4-1

by Eric Rodgers

The Oklahoma City Blazers and El Paso Rhinos faced off in the first of nine meetings this season between the two teams, with the first series taking place in Edmond at Arctic Edge Ice Arena. The last time these two teams played, it was the Rhinos sending the Blazers home from the Thorne Cup Semifinals last season.

El Paso came into the game as one of two remaining unbeaten teams in the WSHL, and looked to keep that alive, while the Blazers were looking to hand the Rhinos their first L of the season, and earn a small bit of revenge from their loss to end last season.

The first period began with the Blazers taking the lead on an Andrei Vasile play, stealing the puck from Rhinos defenseman Sebastian Jovicic, and putting it past goaltender Oliver Soovik. Both teams continued back and forth throughout the remainder of the first, leaving the score 1-0 in favor of OKC after twenty minutes.

In period number two, the Blazers again opened up the scoring in the period, this time from Brig Neuhold on a rush play that became a partial 2-on-0, and making it a 2-0 game. El Paso would cut the score in half later in the period with Easton Easterson finding the back of the net on the power play, and sending the game to the second intermission at a 2-1 Blazers lead.

A penalty to Darcy Flanagan began the third period for OKC, placing them on the PK to kick off the final frame. Persistence was the name of the PK for the Blazers on this one, as Tadeus Aulehla and Matej Hajek combined on a shorthanded rush to hand the Rhinos their first shorthanded goal against of the season, and putting OKC up by a 3-1 score.

With 3:24 left, the Rhinos called a timeout and pulled Soovik for the extra attacker, but was quickly shut down by Dylan Koch scoring with the empty net, and sealing the 4-1 win for the Blazers, giving El Paso their first loss of the season.

Joel Svensson picked up the win in net as he improves to 6-0-0 on the season, making 31 saves in the win.

Both teams continue their weekend series Saturday at Arctic Edge with a 7:30p Central start time.