Yesterday began the 3-in-3 series between the Jacks and Rhinos. Odessa entered the game last night on a three-game win streak and was tied with New Mexico for second place. As for El Paso, they were tied with Corpus Christi for sixth place and were on a three-game losing streak. The Rhinos have only scored two goals in their last three games. These three-straight games for Odessa also mark the halfway point of their 12-straight home games. Prior to game one last night, the Jacks were 3-1 against the Rhinos.
The opening period was a battle between Alex Proctor and Rhinos goalie, Lassi Lehti. With multiple players out of the lineup for the Jacks, they brought in Ben Palmersheim and Zach Nicholls. Both played in their first NAHL games. It was not until there were less than four minutes left in the period that the scoreless game was broken. Aleksi Kayra (2) beat Proctor to give El Paso the first goal of the night. With under a minute left, Alex Krause (8) sent a backhander top shelf on Proctor to give the Rhinos a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission. Shots after 20 minutes favored the Rhinos, 13-10.
The middle period was the highest shooting period for Odessa. They were able to convert on one of their 12 shots thanks to Tanyon Bajzer (2). Bajzer forced the puck past Lehti on a backhander to cut the Rhinos lead in half. That would be the only goal scored during the second period. El Paso managed to put up 10 shots, but Proctor stood tall on all of them.
Within the first five minutes of the final period, Odessa was able to tie the game. Tanyon Bajzer sent a pass from the right circle to the left circle where Brendan Finn was waiting. Finn fired a slapshot past Lehti for his first NAHL goal. The two-unanswered goals for Odessa were followed up by two-straight goals by El Paso. Both goals were separated by 1:13 and happened before the halfway point of the final period. Philip Quetell (6) notched the first one and Graham Harris (7) made it 4-2 Rhinos. Odessa pulled Proctor towards the end of the period but was unable to convert with the extra attacker out on the ice. Giving El Paso the first win of the 3-in-3 series. The Rhinos outshot the Jacks, 35-30.
The win moved El Paso into sole possession of sixth place (10-10-2, 22PTS). With no other South teams in action last night, Odessa remains tied with New Mexico for second place (14-8-0-1, 29PTS). That was the fifth out of eight games between these two teams and Lehti has played in all of them (2-2-1). Proctor is now 3-1 against the Rhinos. Odessa still leads the season series with a 3-2 record. Both teams finished 0/2 on the power play during the 60-minute span last night. The middle game of the three-game series is tonight at 7:15 pm CDT.
Photo credit: Danne Braden