SUNDAY – EL PASO 5, Colorado 2

Mar 31, 2024

A fast start for the Grit and a season best from goaltender Aden Gariepy were wiped out by a pivotal goal reversal in the second period as El Paso scored four unanswered goals in the middle frame en route to a 5-2 victory over Colorado on Sunday night.

Colorado hit the front foot just 1:35 into the first period, thanks to Noah Grolnic. Grolnic’s wrist shot from the right point skipped off a Rhino stick and burrowed into the back of the net past Rhino netminder Joe LoVullo. The tally was Grolnic’s team-leading 17th goal of the season and gave the Grit the advantage, 1-0. Defenseman Will Hadrick III stayed red hot and helped the Grit double their lead midway through the period. Just like Friday night, a rebound opportunity was scooped up and punched into the back of the net, beating a prone LoVullo, and giving Colorado a 2-0 lead with 7:48 to play in the first period.

Early in the second period, the game was flipped on its head over the course of eight minutes. With 16:25 to go in the middle stanza, Rhino forward Mason LeBel rifled a shot past the glove of Colorado goaltender Aden Gariepy, appearing to kick off the crossbar. The goal light came on briefly and play continued. 40 seconds later, Grit defenseman Jordan Gudridge snapped a wrist shot past LoVullo from the left point to give the Grit a 3-0 advantage with 15:45 to go in the period.

However, since the goal was the first stoppage since LeBel’s effort, the officials got together to review the situation. After a 10-minute review, the officials ruled that LeBel’s effort had indeed found the back of the net, thereby nullifying Gudridge’s goal, and the scoreline stood 2-1 with 16:20 left in the period. From there, the Rhinos surged forward with a string of three more unanswered goals to turn the scoreline around.

A fortuitous bounce found Frank Tafelski’s stick in the high slot and he slipped the puck past Gariepy to tie the score, 2-2, with 11:15 to go in the period. Minutes later, the El Paso first line connected on a redirect from Ritter Coombs to give the Rhinos their first lead of the night, 3-2, with 8:50 remaining in the second frame. Defenseman Alexandre Pellerin sniped a wrist shot from the edge of the right circle to double the El Paso advantage, 4-2, with just 32 seconds remaining and gave the home side the two-goal advantage into the second intermission.

The Grit clamped down defensively in the third period; two perfect penalty kills and nine more saves from Gariepy, who finished with a season-high 36 saves, gave the Colorado offense an opportunity for a comeback bid.

Colorado found a two-man advantage with five minutes remaining and picked up a pair of shots on goal from Bowen Burke and George Poirier. The advantage was nullified by a tripping penalty assessed to Poirier with 3:57 to play; the Grit rookie pleaded his case to the officials and wound up with a match misconduct penalty in the process. The early exits were just beginning for Colorado.

With ninety seconds to play, defenseman Hunter Cooke squared up with his counterpart Brendan Coughlin in front of the Grit bench. The 20-year old defenseman pancaked Coughlin to the ice with a grapple and a punch, drawing stick taps from his teammates and an escort to the dressing room. At the end of the sequence, Gudridge was also disqualified from the game and Colorado finished the final ninety seconds with just 14 available skaters.



1st Period – COL – Grolnic (Carter, Poirier) 1:34

1st Period – COL – Hadrick III (Carter, Poirier) 12:13

2nd Period – ELP – LeBel (Lindsay, Mathys) 3:39

2nd Period – ELP – Tafelski (Bolduc, Arias) 8:44

2nd Period – ELP – Coombs (Bajzer, Hiltunen) 11:09

2nd Period – ELP – Pellerin (Bajzer, Lund) 19:28

3rd Period – ELP – Lund (LeBel, Lindsay) 12:54



COL: 23 ELP: 41


Special Teams

PP – COL: 0/4 ELP: 1/5

PK – COL: 4/5 ELP: 4/4


Notable Performances

A. Gariepy (COL) – 36 saves

G. Poirier (COL) – 0 G, 2 A

C. Carter (COL) 0 G, 2 A

M. LeBel (ELP) – 1 G, 1 A