Weekend Review: Taking Care of Business out West

Standings: 3rd

Points: 76

Last Ten Games: 9-1-0-0

Friday Night:

It was all business for the Warriors as they made their way into the El Paso County Events Center for game one of the weekend, winning five of their last six against the team.

One of the keys to the game was to be great on the defensive side of the puck in all three zones, and great they were, winning the game in a shutout fashion for Brandon Milberg.

Warriors defenseman Philip Tornqvist got the scoring started in the back half of the opening period. His 18th of the season came on the ER-Now power play, on a one-time blast from the right-wing. This gave the Warriors a lead they would never relinquish, as the horn would sound to end the period with a 1-0 score in a back and forth period.

El Paso would gain a few chances and attempt to gain control of the game’s pace and tie up the score, but Garrett Horsager beat El Paso netminder Zack Zacharewicz by banking the puck off the post to extend the Warriors lead.

Tornqvist would one-time another puck into the Rhinos net for a three-goal lead and his second of the game at 14:33 of the second period. It was a mirror of the opening goal he scored as Vincent Corcoran and William Lawson-Body would collect the assists on the goal.

Max Dronen, on the doorstep, tipped a puck past Zacharewicz for a four-goal lead at 17:07 of the middle frame and would give the Rhinos an arduous task entering the third period. 4-0 the score.

Warriors were content to play a defensive style the majority of the period, but an El Paso penalty would give them a chance for a third power-play goal of the game. Dominick Rivelli would take that chance, roofing a loose puck off the rebound from Cade Lemmer, and collect his 11th goal to give the Warriors a 5-0 lead.

Brendan Williams closes out the scoring, picking up his 8th on the season, cutting to the slot, and sniping his shot past the blocker side. His goal keeps him above a point per game, and the Warriors would blank the Rhinos for the second time this season.

Milberg collected the win, stopping all 21 shots he faced for his seventh shutout win of the season and his fifth win in a row. Zacharewicz gained his lead leading 28th loss, facing 41 shots.

Saturday’s game:

The first period saw no scoring but attempts by both sides to dominate the tempo. El Paso with their physicality and the Warriors with their speed. The end of the period saw goose eggs on the board. 0-0 the score.

Effort was the message to the team heading into the middle frame, as Assistant Coach Brennan Couet stated in the First Period Intermission Report. It was rookie Nick Comfort becoming an NAHL goal scorer at the 2:01 mark of the second period, driving hard to the El Paso crease and tipping the puck into a wide-open net from a cross-ice feed from Cade Lemmer.

Cade Lemmer grabs his 20th goal of the season, a mirror image of the goal scored by Comfort earlier in the period, and would push the lead to two goals and the Warriors silencing the typical ruckus crowd of El Paso.

The Rhinos would see a flurry of chances in the Warriors zone late in the period, with Danial Duris making his first start of the weekend, keeping his shutout attempt alive. The Warriors would regain possession of the puck and create chances in tight, with Williams slotting the puck between the legs of Zacharewicz to push the lead to 3-0 at the end of the period.

The Warriors would be on the Armored Roofing Penalty Kill to start the final frame, as some extracurricular activities would ensue after the buzzers sounded to end the second. The Warriors were assessed a bench minor and would kill that off successfully to have a perfect night on the PK.

Adisen Brueck put away his chance in the high slot to grab his 8th goal of the season at 8:59 of the period, beating Zacharewicz on his blocker side to put the Warriors at a 4-0 advantage.

At the game’s end, the Warriors would collect the weekend sweep in back-to-back shutout victories. Duris managed to stop all 21 shots sent in his direction for his 8th win of the 2021-2022 campaign. Zacharewicz would collect his second loss of the weekend, only able to stop 38 of the 42 shots he faced.

This victory puts Wichita Falls on a seven-game winning streak and one point behind New Mexico for home-ice advantage.

Written by: Scott Masom