After consecutive defeats at the hands of the El Paso Rhinos, this time it was the Dallas Ice Jets' turn to get out to an early lead and hold off the opponent, avoiding the Rhinos' sweep with a 5-1 win Sunday afternoon.
Richard Bohan broke through at 8:05 and Kellen Patrick scored on a delayed penalty just 47 seconds later to give the hosts a 2-0 lead before El Paso could respond.
The response came with one of the best goals of the year from team captain and El Paso native Mike Rivera. With the Rhinos trying to kill off a two-man advantage, Rivera took an Ice Jets shot that had careened into the neutral zone and broke away up the ice.
Dallas did well to get a man back to cover, but Rivera pulled a 360-spin move that simultaneously threw the defender and drew goalie Michael Baldwin off his line. Rivera backhanded his shot in for El Paso's league-leading 29th short-handed goal at 15:07.
Despite the lift Rivera's goal gave to the visitors, El Paso wasn't able to capitalize and the Ice Jets scored the last three goals of the game to take the win. Grant Williams scored at 17:02 of the second, Jordan Deckard at 8:36 of the third and Connor Enciso laced in a power play goal from the point at 9:43.
Dallas improves to 30-3-1 and the Ice Jets' 61 points is second only to Idaho (65) in the Western States Hockey League. El Paso falls to 26-6-2. The Rhinos' 54 points keeps them in a double-digit lead over the Cheyenne Stampede atop the Mountain Conference.
El Paso returns home to play Cheyenne at the Events Center Friday through Sunday, Feb. 1-3. Friday's and Saturday's games start at 7:30 p.m. MST. Sunday's game begins at 10:30 a.m. MST. For tickets and information, contact the Rhinos' front office at 915/479.PUCK (7825), or go to www.elpasorhinos.com .