FRIDAY – EL PASO 3, Colorado 2

Mar 29, 2024

Two goals in the third period and a late comeback effort brought the Grit back into the game, but Colorado’s effort fell just short on Friday night as they dropped a 3-2 thriller to the El Paso Rhinos on Friday night. 

The Grit controlled the opening twenty minutes, outshooting and outchancing the Rhinos 8-4 in the opening frame. The newly constructed line of Brayden Fryfogle, Lukas Mann, and Tomas Vlcek had the lion’s share of the opportunities in the first period. With 11:48 to go in the period, Vlcek rifled a shot from the edge of the right circle that forced a kick save from El Paso goaltener Michael Manzi, who finished with 22 saves. The effort was the highlight of a three-minute stretch where the Grit hemmed El Paso into the defensive zone after a Grit power play came up empty. 

In the opening minutes of the second period, Colorado had their best scoring opportunity after winger Brayden Fryfogle drew a hooking penalty that resulted in a penalty shot with 17:45 to play in the frame. Fryfogle tried to deke to the forehand past Manzi, but had the puck roll off his stick at the edge of the crease, keeping the score 0-0.

The Rhinos would take advantage of the deadlock with two rapid fire goals midway through the second period. A snapshot from El Paso forward Medrick Bolduc blistered the cross bar and beat Colorado netminder Jack Erickson to give the Rhinos a 1-0 lead with 10:21 to play in the period. Only a half minute later, Rhino blueline Tristan Zarsky walked in from the right point and ripped a wrist shot past the glove of Erickson to double the advantage, 2-0, with 9:49 to play in the second period. Those were the only fireworks in the second period until the final seconds of the period when rookie Sheldon Rioux was checked into the Rhino bench. The crunching hit was a coda for a dominant second period for El Paso, who led 2-0 into the intermission.

The Grit responded immediately to open the third period, climbing back into the game courtesy of defenseman Will Hadrick III. Hadrick III’s second goal of the year came after he forced a turnover behind the Rhino net and shoveled the puck past Manzi to get the Grit on the board, 2-1, just 1:43 into the third period. Colorado leveled the score midway through the third, thanks to red-hot Noah Grolnic. The midseason acquisition snapped a wrist shot through a screen past a bewildered Manzi and tied the game, 2-2, with 10:43 to play in regulation.

A fortunate bounce allowed the home side to take the lead for good minutes later. After Erickson made one of his 31 saves, Hadrick III slid down to block a rebound for good measure. The puck fell right to El Paso forward Ryan Gingher at the bottom of the left circle; the knuckling third effort fluttered over Erickson’s glove and into the back of the net, making it 3-2, with 7:30 to play.

The Grit continued fighting until the final buzzer, despite playing the final 2:07 of the game while shorthanded. After another strong penalty kill, Colorado surged up the ice with 40 seconds to play in search of an equalizer. The Grit were able to pull Erickson and get back to even strength, getting one final wrist shot from George Poirier. The rebound was kicked into the corner where the Rhinos held it until the final buzzer sounded.



2nd Period – ELP – M. Bolduc (Bazjer, Mathys) 9:39

2nd Period – ELP – T. Zarsky (Bajzer, Bolduc) 10:11

3rd Period – COL – W. Hadrick III 1:43

3rd Period – COL – N. Grolnic (Poirier, Hadrick III) 9:43 

3rd Period – ELP – R. Gingher (Triggs, Mathys) 12:29



Colorado: 24 El Paso: 34

Special Teams

PP: Colorado: 0/1 El Paso: 0/4

PK: Colorado 4/4 El Paso 1/1

Notable Performances

J. Erickson (COL) – 31 saves

W. Hadrick (COL) – 1 G, 1 A

M. Bolduc (ELP) – 1 G, 1 A

T. Mathys (ELP) – 0 G, 2 A