Standings in South Division: 3rd
Last Ten Games: 8-1-0-1
It was a crucial weekend for your Warriors to come away with all four points with the regular season-ending looming. With Shreveport grabbing two wins themselves this weekend, the sweep over the Rhinos keeps the Warriors ahead of the Mudbugs by three points.
It would have been easy to get trapped into an easy game against the last-placed Rhinos, but Wichita Falls kept their heads down and focused on the task at hand in the Kay Yeager Coliseum.
From opening puck drop, the Warriors controlled the pace of play, pushing the puck deep into El Paso’s end and testing their goaltender, Jacob Zacharewicz, early.
The game’s opening goal would come from the Warriors leading scorer, Ryan Robinson. He would finish off the three-on-two breakout out of their zone. Robinson would collect his 19th goal of the season at the 5:31 mark of the first period.
Hunter Jones wouldn’t wait long to make it a two-goal lead, completing his chance in front sent by Philip Tornqvist just 20 seconds after Robinson’s goal. That would give Jones his 5th goal of the 2021-2022 campaign.
Rhinos’ forward Johnathan Horn collected a minor for hooking at 6:34 and gave the Warriors their first chance on the ER-Now power play. Owen Baumgartner would blast home a one-timer and get his first goal of the game to continue the dominating presence the Warriors have on the man advantage.
The last goal of the period came courtesy of Rylan Brady, as he stuffed a wrister under the crossbar to chase Zacharewicz from the crease to end his night early. Nate Dicky would come in for relief to close out the first period.
The second period was relatively calm with no penalties and chances for both teams, but it was Brady going on hat-trick watch at 16:51 when he put home a no-look pass by Harguindeguy to put the Warriors up by five at the end of the second buzzer.
The Rhinos erased the zero on the scoreboard in the final period but not before the Warriors could tack on two more goals, the first coming from Baumgartner. He would collect the puck on the left point, weave his way through Rhinos defenders to get to the slot, and choose the top right corner to put himself in double digits in the goal column with ten goals on the season.
Adisen Brueck finished the Warriors scoring for the night by deflecting the puck intercepted by Dean Bauchiero in the game’s closing minutes to put the score 7-0. Adison Brueck notched his fifth goal of the season.
Brandon Milberg was perfect until a late goal by Kristaps Kristins broke the shutout attempt. The buzzer would sound to end the game with a 7-1 score and start Hockey Fights Cancer weekend with a big win.
Milberg collects his 17th win and his 13th as a member of the Warriors. Zacharewicz is credited with the loss, his 21st of the season.
The Rhinos were looking to avoid losing their 17th loss in a row and their 4th straight loss against the Warriors.
Zacharewicz would get his second start of the weekend, but he would face rookie goaltender Daniel Duris on the opposite side of the rink. Heading into the game, Duris would look to repeat his only start against the Rhinos, which was a 3-0 shutout.
Rylan Brady scored his third goal of the weekend, continuing his offensive prowess, three minutes into the game to give the Warriors a 1-0 lead with assists from Adisen Brueck and Carter Korpi. Associate Coach, Brennan Couet, praised Brady’s work ethic in his interview during the first-period intermission report and was pleased that his work ethic is paying off for the Lake Superior State commit.
Adisen Brueck would collect a goal of his own 44 seconds later to grab a 2-0 lead, and Wichita Falls started to repeat that dominating performance from the night before. At the end of the first period, the Warriors would put 17 shots on goal.
The pressure continued to mount on the Rhinos coming into the middle period, as Robinson would score again on the weekend and lead the team in scoring by grabbing his 47th point.
Cade Lemmer, at 11:48 of the period, would deflect a shot from the right point by Cole Teleki and put it past the Rhino goaltender to give the Warriors a 4-0 lead and Lemmer his 18th goal of the season.
Brady would give Dominick Rivelli a one-time feed in the slot to give the Warriors their game’s final goal in the last minute of the period. That goal would be Rivelli’s 7th, and the score would be 5-0 by the buzzer.
The Rhinos get on the board at the 7:44 mark of the third period to break the shutout attempt by Duris as Bo Cosmen sniped one home glove side. El Paso would attempt to push the pace of play until the final buzzer, but the game would end with a 5-1 Warriors victory and a sweep for Hockey Fights Cancer weekend.
Duris turned aside 25 of 26 shots for his 6th win, and Zacharewicz would collect an NAHL leading 22nd loss.
On March 18th and 19th, Wichita Falls will be traveling to Odessa and looking to continue their winning ways. Both games will get started at 7:15 CST.
Odessa is currently sitting 5th in the South Division and is 2 points behind Shreveport for that final playoff position and 5 points behind Wichita Falls.
Written by: Scott Masom