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THORNE CUP CHAMPIONSHIP GAME WRAP-UP; April 15, 2018

Photo provided by: El Paso Rhinos

The El Paso Rhinos completed their dramatic return from the brink of elimination and won the third Thorne Cup title in franchise history with a 3-2 win over the Ogden Mustangs in Sunday's Western States Hockey League championship game.

It was a fitting game for the final tilt of the WSHL's championship tournament. It was junior hockey at its best: two evenly-matched teams playing the game at a high level and being forced to work for every scoring chance against two goaltenders at the top of their games.

Late in the third period, with the game tied 2-2, Rhinos forward Nikita Pintusov created a turnover in the El Paso end and turned up ice with the puck. He carried it straight up the center of the ice on a three-on-two. As the Rhinos entered the Ogden zone, instead of dishing the puck to his left or right, Pintusov used a Mustangs defenseman as a screen and snapped a crisp wrist shot just under the bar over the glove hand of Ogden netminder Tymen Edelkoort. The goal came with 2:09 left in the game.

Rhinos goaltender Kayden Pickles (27 saves) started and won his third start in as many days days - all of them elimination games. He kept the Mustangs off the board until the final horn sounded.

Jacob Laurin put Ogden on the board 3:56 into the contest. It was the only goal of the opening period, and El Paso's Justin-Cole Dubecky provided the only scoring in the second period. Ogden was pinned in their own end by an effective El Paso forecheck. The puck was played back to the point where Dubecky threw it on net. The puck went through a screen of bodies and sticks in front and directly into the net behind Edelkoort (26 saves).

The Rhinos took their first lead of the game 7:29 into the third period.  The El Paso forecheck forced the Mustangs to fire the puck hard around the boards from behind their own net. Rhino forward Leeam Tivers was quick to the side boards, short-circuiting the play. Tivers took a few strides to the middle of the ice and beat Edelkoort with a hard, low wrist shot to make it 2-1 El Paso.

The elation among the El Paso fans lasted 11 seconds after the ensuing faceoff when Ogden's Tyson Liverance fired the puck on net from a severe angle along the right-wing boards. Pickles allowed a rebound and Mustang Sage Fleming out-dueled a Rhinos defenseman to get his stick on the puck first and swat it into the net and tie the game back up.

The score remained tied for the next 10 minutes until Pintusov's game-winner.

El Paso, which also won the WSHL championship in 2008 and 2014, hosted the six-team tournament at Sierra Providence Events Center.

The Rhinos lost their first two games in the round-robin, and trailed in their third game, but rallied to win, then defeated the five-time champion Idaho IceCats in the semifinals.

Appearing at the Thorne Cup for the third time, Ogden played in the championship game for the first time in their seven-year history.

--- Scott Harrington/Harrington Sports Media

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THORNE CUP SEMIFINAL WRAP-UP; April 14, 2018

Photo provided by: Mark Mauno

The El Paso Rhinos will go after their third Thorne Cup championship tomorrow, while the Ogden Mustangs will attempt to capture their first WSHL title, after the Rhinos and Mustangs were victorious in their semifinal contests on Saturday in El Paso's Sierra Providence Events Center.

Ogden 10, Long Beach 3

The Ogden Mustangs scored five times in the second period to break open the game and cruised to a 10-3 win over the Long Beach Bombers in the early semifinal.

The Mustangs scored the lone goal of the first period, but jumped on the Bombers early in the second period, scoring twice in the first 1:51. Matus Spodniak - his first of two goals in the game - and Ammon Anderson quickly made it 3-0 Ogden. That opened the floodgates and the Mustangs were in control from that point forward.

Tomas Urbanec scored a pair of third period goals for Long Beach, but the game was out of reach at that point.

Mustangs netminder Tymen Edelkoort, making his fourth start in as many days, made 14 of his 25 saves in the third period.

Spodniak added a pair of assists for a four-point game and Ian Currie had three assists for Ogden.

El Paso 4, Idaho 0

Twenty four hours earlier they sat with their backs to the wall, but the El Paso Rhinos returned from the brink of elimination with a comeback win over Utah, and are now on their way to the Thorne Cup championship game following a 4-0 win over the Idaho IceCats.

The Rhinos broke the ice just 1:44 after the opening faceoff as Chaseton Sare re-directed a Colby Haugen shot from the point.

The score remained 1-0 until midway through the second period. A Rhinos defenseman retrieved a dump-in deep in the El Paso end of the rink and fired a long clearing attempt through the neutral zone and into the Idaho end. An IceCats defender lost an edge, allowing Nikita Pintusov to get to the puck first. Idaho netminder Tyler Matthews tried to come out to get to the puck first but Pintusov shifted around him and slid the puck into the empty cage.

Pintusov and Jake Kopinski added third-period goals to make the final 4-0 El Paso.

The Rhinos stuck with Kayden Pickles in net after he backstopped the team to their season-saving win over Utah in his tournament debut. He rewarded them with a 19-save shutout.

--- Scott Harrington/Harrington Sports Media

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Western States Hockey League Thorne Cup Standings
AS OF 4/13

Rank FLIGHT 'A'

Rank FLIGHT 'B'

1. EL PASO RHINOS

4. LONG BEACH BOMBERS

2. IDAHO ICECATS

5. OKLAHOMA CITY BLAZERS

3. OGDEN MUSTANGS

6. UTAH OUTLIERS

 

Date

Day

Time

Visitor

Score Vis

Home

Score Hm

4/11/2018

Wednesday

10:00 AM

Utah Outliers

2

Ogden Mustangs

4

4/11/2018

Wednesday

2:00 PM

Oklahoma City Blazers

2

Idaho IceCats

4

4/11/2018

Wednesday

7:00 PM

Long Beach Bombers

4

El Paso Rhinos

1

 

         

 

Date

Day

Time

Visitor

Score Vis

Home

Score Hm

4/12/2018

Thursday

10:00 AM

Idaho IceCats

1

Utah Outliers

4

4/12/2018

Thursday

2:00 PM

Ogden Mustangs

4

Long Beach Bombers

2

4/12/2018

Thursday

7:00 PM

El Paso Rhinos

3

Oklahoma City Blazers

4

 

         

 

Date

Day

Time

Visitor

Score Vis

Home

Score Hm

4/23/1900

Friday

10:00 AM

Long Beach Bombers

1

Idaho IceCats

 5

4/13/2018

Friday

2:00 PM

Oklahoma City Blazers

3

Ogden Mustangs

4/13/2018

Friday

7:00 PM

Utah Outliers

3

El Paso Rhinos

Rank FLIGHT 'A'

Points as of 4/13

Round Robin Final Finish

1. EL PASO RHINOS

2

1. Ogden Mustangs

2. IDAHO ICECATS

4

2. Idaho IceCats

3. OGDEN MUSTANGS

6

3. El Paso Rhinos

Rank FLIGHT 'B'

 

4. Long Beach Bombers

4. LONG BEACH BOMBERS

2

5. Oklahoma City Blazers

5. OKLAHOMA CITY BLAZERS

2

6. Utah Outliers

6. UTAH OUTLIERS

2

Bold advance to Semi Final

 

 

Point Awards:
2 points for a win
1 point for tie game in regulation
TOP 4 TEAMS ADVANCE TO SEMI FINAL GAMES SEATED BY RANK
Tie Breaker Protocol
If two (2) Teams are Tied in Points at the end of the Round Robin, head to head competition shall be the first tie breaker, if head to head doesn't exist, then the team with the highest ranking entering the Thorne Cup shall advance or take the highest position available. If more than two (2) teams are tied then the tie breaker shall be based on team ranking above.

 

   

SEMI- FINALS

   

 

Date

Day

Time

Visitor

Score Vis

Home

Score Hm

4/14/2018

Saturday

2:00 PM

Long Beach Bombers

 

Ogden Mustangs

 

4/14/2018

Saturday

7:00 PM

El Paso Rhinos

 

Idaho Ice Cats

 

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THORNE CUP WRAP-UP; April 13, 2018

Photo provided by: Mark Mauno

The Ogden Mustangs, Idaho IceCats, El Paso Rhinos and Long Beach Bombers have qualified for the semifinals of the 2018 Thorne Cup following the thrilling conclusion of the round-robin stage of the tournament on Friday night. The Oklahoma City Blazers and Utah Outliers were eliminated in a tie-breaker after four teams finished deadlocked for the final two semifinal spots.

Idaho 5, Long Beach 1

The Long Beach Bombers scored 39 seconds into their game against Idaho, and still led 1-0 at the first intermission, but it was all IceCats after that. Idaho scored twice in the second period to take a 2-1 lead, then added three more in the third period for a 5-1 final that ensured Idaho a spot in the top four.

Long Beach had to sit back and scoreboard watch, but also advanced after claiming the fourth and final semifinal spot.

Marcus Jernberg scored twice for the IceCats and goaltender Tyler Matthews shook off some rust - and an early goal against - to backstop the rally with 14 saves.

While Long Beach goaltender Spencer Kozlowski (24 saves) was making his third start of the Thorne Cup, Matthews was making his first appearance in the Idaho crease since February 18.

Ryan Gil scored in the first minute of play for the Bombers.

Ogden 5, Oklahoma City 3

Ivan Bondarenko's goal 25 seconds into the second period gave the Oklahoma City Blazers a 2-1 lead over the Ogden Mustangs, but Ogden responded with four unanswered goals on their way to a 5-3 win.

Ogden finished as the top team in the round-robin and was the only team to win all of their games in the first stage of the tournament.

Jacob Laurin scored a hat trick for Ogden with Matus Spodniak assisting on all three goals.

Bobby Cloutier made 36 saves for Oklahoma City and stopped all 14 shots in the third period to give the Blazers a chance to mount a comeback, but a stingy Ogden defense shut OKC down and held them to five shots on goal in the final period.

Tymen Edelkoort, making his third start in as many days, stopped 18 of 20 shots through two periods before being lifted with the Mustangs ahead, 5-2. Jonathan Chin played the third period, allowing one goal on five shots.

Oklahoma City's Connor Dunn scored the lone goal of the third period.

El Paso 4, Utah 3

The El Paso Rhinos were on the brink of elimination after losing their first two games at the 2018 Thorne Cup, but the scores of the earlier games on Friday broke in their favor, and they defeated the Utah Outliers 4-3 in the final game of the round-robin. That created a four-way tie for the final two spots - one of which went to the Rhinos.

With their backs to the wall, the Rhinos trailed 1-0 and 2-1, but got the next goal to tie both times and two goals in the final three minutes of the second period gave them a 4-2 lead.

Goals by Dylan Massie and Kane Toriumi had Utah out in front, but Leeam Tivers and Chaseton Sare tied it back up for El Paso. Sare's goal came on the power play with 2:01 left in the first period.

Colby Haugen made a nice play to keep the puck in at the blue line, then fed it to Sare, who moved across the top of the circles with his head up, looking for an opening, then rifled a wrist shot past past Utah's Dawson Rodin to tie the game, 2-2.

Two of the Rhinos top scorers all season, Austin Simpson and Jakob Kranabetter, came through with second period goals to put El Paso up, 4-2.

Playing four-on-four, a Utah pass through the neutral zone hit a skate and deflected to Nikita Pintusov who skated hard down the right wing and fed a pass to Simpson in the slot who buried a wrist shot.

Kranabetter twisted the knife with a goal that came with eight seconds left in the period. The veteran center won a faceoff in the Utah end and the puck went to line mate Philip Pugliese who fired the puck on net. The puck went just wide of the net on the short side but Kranabetter, who went hard to the net after winning the faceoff, collected the puck and executed a quick wraparound to give the Rhinos a two-goal lead and take the wind out of the Outliers' sails as they headed to the locker room.

A goal by Utah's Roman Svik with 7:38 left in the game forced the Rhinos and goaltender Kayden Pickles to play out the remaining time on the clock clinging to a one-goal lead.

El Paso head coach Cory Herman went with his backup goaltender Pickles between the pipes for the must-win game and was rewarded with a 24-save effort.
Rodin made 26 saves for the Outliers.

2018 THORNE CUP
PRELIMINARY ROUND STANDINGS - FINAL

TEAM, W-L-OTL; PTS (GF/GA)
Ogden, 3-0-0; 6 points (13/7)
Idaho, 2-1-0; 4 points (10/7)
El Paso, 1-2-0; 2 points (8/11)
Long Beach, 1-2-0; 2 points (7/10)
Oklahoma City, 1-2-0; 2 points (9/12)
Utah, 1-2-0; 2 points (9/9)

SEMIFINAL SCHEDULE
2:00 p.m. Ogden (3-0-0) vs. Long Beach (1-2-0)
7:00 p.m. Idaho (2-1-0) vs. El Paso (1-2-0)

All games at Sierra Providence Events Center, El Paso TX

--- Scott Harrington/Harrington Sports Media

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Written By: Jon McBride and Posted on: The Ogden Mustangs News

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