El Paso, TX — Four different Rhinos had four-point nights, including Czech Republic forward Jiri Pestuka who had a natural hat trick and an assist, as El Paso sewed up the best record in the Western States Hockey League with a resounding 16-1 win over the Dallas Snipers.
El Paso improves 42-2-0-0. The Rhinos' 84 points tops the Midwest Division by 31 points. The win also assures a fourth-place finish for the Snipers (21-21-1-1, 44 points) in the Midwest, meaning that Dallas will have a return trip to the Sun City next weekend for the first round of the Thorne Cup Playoffs.
The final score wasn't indicative of an evenly-played first period. The Rhinos were outshot, 16-10, in the frame, but led 2-0 after two quick goals -- a power play strike from Krisztian Nagy at 2:26 and a tally from Chad Cesarz.
Cesarz would score another in a seven-goal second period giving him a team-best 36th of the season, but fellow forward Eric Baldwin would notch his 36th in a six-goal third frame.
In addition to Pestuka, Kalvis Ozols (1g, 3a), Tom Bartel (1g, 3a) and David Nelson (4a), also had four points.
Nelson certainly had a successful return to the ice after spending a month recuperating from a concussion.
The teams will play twice more to wrap the regular season, Saturday at 7:30 p.m. MST and Sunday at 4:30 p.m. MDT.
For tickets and information, contact the Rhinos front office at 915.479.PUCK (7825), or go to www.elpasorhinos.com .